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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Different Kind of Homecoming Battle

Brad and Abbey Franzen.

By Matthew Stevens

2000 Memorial Parkway. 

It was a homecoming.  For a more than a half century Stephen Kidd accurately listed his place of birth as Fort Thomas, KY, but outside of the first couple of days in his life, he had not live here.  That changed when he and his family moved from Edgewood to the city of his birth in the fall of 2018 in order to take advantage of Fort Thomas’ outstanding school system.

“I know I’m the only real tie to Fort Thomas here, but I really don’t want this story to be about me.  I’m rather boring, really,” he says with a slight chuckle while playing with his new “Corona beard.”  “This needs to be a story about family and friends rallying around a really fine young man who’s now battling for his life.”

After years of talking about it with his then 80-year-old uncle, Wayne Robertson, the summer of 2019 was finally the year they took the road trip to Cooperstown, NY to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame they always discussed.  

“It’s a really long drive,” Kidd says.  “And as much as I love my uncle, I thought it would a nicer trip with more people.”  That’s when he called his cousin (once removed), Bradley Franzen.  

Brad, his younger brother, Ryan and their father, Mark Franzen all managed to take off a day of work and kept the secret in order to surprise their grandfather/father-in-law that it was now going to be a group road trip.  The next three days proved to strengthen loose family bonds as only such trips can do.

L to R, Brad, Stephen, Wayne, Ryan and Mark in Cooperstown, NY. 

When the call came on November 11 that Brad had gone to the emergency room with severe stomach pains at the urging of his wife of three years, Abbey, only to find he had stage four colon cancer at age 25, everyone in the immediate and extended family was devastated.

“It’s way too young, we were all just in shock.  The last words you ever want to hear are your child has cancer let alone stage four.   I don’t remember ever feeling so scared and helpless,” said Brad’s mother, Carol Franzen. 

Carol has served on the Independence City Council since 2003.  When the news of Brad’s diagnosis spread, local city leaders immediately formed a committee to help raise awareness and funds for Brad’s medical expenses.  It was determined that with the variety and number of donations already pledged that a raffle and auction would be the best routes going forward.

Kidd established a relationship with Everything But The House when they moved to Fort Thomas.  Their new condominium in The Overlook was much longer than it is wide and the huge amount of wall space needed some type of art.  It was then when he began buying and selling affordable art as a side hobby on ebth.com.  When he mentioned Brad’s diagnosis to his EBTH rep, Tricia Lapp, she suggested a charity auction through their online auction site.  

“We’ve regularly work charitable organizations,” said Lapp.  Stephen has worked with us for a couple of years now and has the skills to pull something like this off.  So we’re glad that we can help facilitate an auction for the Battle For Brad.”

Indeed what’s been collected thus far include a plethora of unique items, gift cards, regional getaways and even a week’s oceanfront stay in Florida!

“The people in Fort Thomas have been really nice to us since we moved here,” says Kidd.  “They’re very generous of their time and money in this community.”  And this is where Kidd hopes his new community can help.  “We are taking any kind of meaningful donation of items or experiences to try and create a fabulous online auction that will start April 17 and end April 23.”

Those familiar with EBTH.com know that it is not a refuge for household junk–it’s a website dedicated enhancing the buyer’s home and life through items that have been well cared for and have value.  Kidd says, “We are seeking items like jewelry, art, collectibles, memorabilia and the like.  Anything of value is certainly appreciated.”  While the organizers have already received dozens of donations and pledges, more help is needed.

So how can you help?

Donations of items are being taken until the end of March, so anyone interested in donating something for the “Battle For Brad” auction can visit www.battleforbrad.com and choose the “contact” link in the left navigation or at the bottom of the home page to let the organizers know what you would like to give.  Those who don’t have items for the auction are encouraged to visit the gofundme link, also found on the home page, if they would like to donate cash.  All monies raised by the auction and gofundme will help alleviate the cost of Brad’s medical expenses.  A number of dining fundraisers have been planned, the aforementioned raffle is tentatively slated for June and a charity motorcycle ride sponsored by High Stakes Harley-Davidson is planned for October 16.  

All the information on these events can be found at www.battleforbrad.com.

“The people in Fort Thomas really value family.  I think that’s why we seem to fit in well here in this community,” Kidd says.  Family and the fight against diseases like cancer know no boundaries.  Kidd and “Team Brad” as they sometimes call themselves are hoping his new community will help promote the values of family and giving as Brad Franzen takes on the battle of his life.

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