The Patrick Risha CTE Awareness Foundation is a non-profit volunteer based organization. It was created in Patrick’s memory to help prevent CTE and RHI in future athletes and military service members; and to provide a resource for understanding the disease, how it is caused, and how to stop it.
CTE is an acronym for Chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It is a progressive brain disease which is believed to be caused by RHI (repetitive head impacts). This insidious disease slowly and painfully destroys your brain. And it destroys the person in the process. Sadly today on midget, middle school, high school, and college fields everywhere in this country, aspiring young athletes are training and practicing and playing, so often oblivious to the danger they face. This danger is all too real to those of us that loved and lost Patrick in September, 2014. His autopsy revealed widespread CTE, white matter damage and brain inflammation. He was an All-Conference running back at Elizabeth Forward High School, a star post-graduate at Deerfield Academy, and a dedicated teammate at Dartmouth College. Patrick never played professional football. But throughout high school, prep school and college, this tough young running back received enough blows to the head to essentially seal his fate. Patrick developed CTE.
One mission of the Patrick Risha CTE Awareness Foundation is to provide parents of school age children (who have very susceptible brains) with information about the dangers of sports which involve Repetitive Head Impacts. Football is at the top of the list, and pretty much involves players repeatedly taking hits to the head. But the list is long, from bull riding to cheerleading and beyond. And sadly our brave military service members are coming home with the disease in alarming numbers.
None of us knew back then what we NEED to know today. The human brain is not designed to smack around the inside of the skull. Particularly in young people, helmets do not protect the athlete from white matter brain damage and CTE.
Sadly Patrick suffered, undiagnosed and misunderstood for many years until taking his own life (a common CTE symptom). He left behind a son he adored, and a grieving family and community. This foundation seeks to save every beautiful mind, like Patrick’s, and to give families and caregivers the chance to understand what is happening if they are confronted with this horrific disease.
We hope that our efforts will help enable parents to make informed choices and prevent the sure sadness that comes from watching a bright mind literally become unwired.
In Patrick’s memory, this foundation will do everything it can to make a difference.
What is CTE?
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma. Learn more about: What is CTE.