Beloved softball and hockey player has survived brain surgeries, cancer, COVID-19, mass shooting and a tornado.
If there’s anyone who has the right to say, “Why me?” it’s Brad Kallen.
The 50-year-old West Bloomfield resident has undergone brain surgery at Henry Ford Hospital twice — in 2017 and Jan. 4 — to remove a benign tumor, a Stage 2 meningioma.
He underwent surgery for bladder cancer six years ago at the University of Michigan Hospital and is cancer-free.
He was taken down for a few weeks in November by a nasty case of the COVID-19 virus.
“Brad’s symptoms ran the gamut,” said his mother, famed boxing manager Jackie Kallen.
“He wasn’t able to taste or smell, he had a fever, he vomited, he was lethargic,” she said.
In 2017, Brad and a few friends were in Las Vegas and found themselves near a mass shooting at a country music festival at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino that killed 59 and injured 527.
After hearing gunshots, Jackie Callan said, Brad and his friends saw people running from the shooting scene.
Brad ran with the crowd, then hid in a clump of bushes. He was separated from his friends, but he caught up with them later.
In 1976, when Brad was 6 years old, every window in the Kallen house in West Bloomfield was blown out by a tornado.
“It was at 7:15 p.m., March 20, 1976. I’ll never forget it. We all ran downstairs just in time,” Jackie Kallen said. “Junk flew into the house from every direction. We had to move out temporarily.”
Also that year, Brad underwent surgery for a double hernia.
Through it all, Brad hasn’t stopped smiling. He’s relied on a positive attitude and love for his family — his wife, Molly, their three children ages 8-12, two dogs, two cats, a hamster and a goldfish — to pull him through each crisis.
“Brad doesn’t complain. He takes his lemons and makes lemonade, always with a smile. He’s a survivor,” Jackie Kallen said.
In 2014, three years before his first brain surgery, Brad was named the recipient of the Inter-Congregational Men’s Club Summer Softball League’s Jeff Fox Sportsmanship Award.
He was nominated for the prestigious award by a unanimous vote of his Temple Israel No. 3 teammates.
“That’s because Brad is selfless,” said Temple Israel No. 3 manager Elon Friedman. “He was a great teammate who played anywhere on the field where he was needed and always got the job done. He also was a good hitter.”
Friedman also was Brad’s teammate and manager on a coed floor hockey team called the Ugly Pucklings that plays in a league at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit in West Bloomfield when there isn’t a pandemic.
“Brad was our goalie. He was the best goalie in the league,” Friedman said.
Brad doesn’t play softball, floor hockey or ice hockey anymore because of his brain surgeries. But he and Friedman still see each other because they’re good friends and their families are close.
The two men talked for an hour the night before Brad’s brain surgery earlier this month.
“Brad said he couldn’t wait to get the surgery done and over with,” Friedman said. “The surgery was originally scheduled for Dec. 23, but Brad postponed it because he didn’t want to miss winter break time with his kids. His family went to Florida for a vacation.”
Jackie Kallen said her son missed about a month of work following his 2017 brain surgery. Brad owns a residential construction company and is a part-time disc jockey.
Friedman still marvels at what he saw Brad doing about a week after the 2017 surgery.
“There he was, with staples in his head, up on a ladder painting his house,” Friedman said.
Brad isn’t doing any house painting these days as he’s recovering from brain surgery once again. But he is spending time catching up with well wishes from friends near and far.
“I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers, love and support I’ve received,” Brad said in a text message.
“This was my second brain surgery, so at least I knew what to expect. It’s not easy (recovering), but with the right attitude, anything is bearable. I’m fortunate to have such a strong family and such great friends. I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Friedman said Brad is a guy who likes the simple things in life. All the medical issues and drama don’t fit his lifestyle.
“For Brad, a treat is a slice of cheese pizza from Buddy’s, French fries from McDonald’s or a regular Coke,” Friedman said.
Those wishing to send get well wishes to Brad can post them on his Facebook page.