DAVENPORT, Iowa --- The sticky note is planted right next to the “on” button of Peggy Hausler's computer.
She sees it every morning when she starts her day as a senior administrative associate for the University of Iowa Foundation. It says “Team Brett” and it’s there to remind her that a young football player who once worked as an intern in her office currently is engaged in the fight of his life.
“When I turn the computer on every morning, it gives me that little minute where I think about him,” Hausler said. “It just sets my day up for the right frame of mind because I know all the challenges he’s going through. He’s really an amazing guy.”
That’s pretty much the refrain from everyone who knows Brett Greenwood.
It was exactly a year ago today that Greenwood, a former Pleasant Valley and Iowa football star, saw his life spin on a dime. Less than a week after being released by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the final round of training camp cuts, he was working out on the football field of his old high school when he collapsed.
His heart slipped into an abnormal rhythm and stopped beating. He was given CPR and treated with a defibrillator by a school nurse and trainer who happened to be on the scene for a game that night. Greenwood was taken to Trinity Medical Center in Bettendorf and airlifted to University of Iowa Hospitals after his condition stabilized.
He was treated with a cooling process called therapeutic hypothermia and remained in a coma for 27 days. Despite the quick actions of those on the scene, he suffered an anoxic brain injury, which means his brain was deprived of oxygen for a period of time.
Greenwood has spent most of the past year in a brain rehabilitation facility in Ankeny, Iowa.
Very little is known about his condition. Greenwood and his family have staunchly guarded their privacy and declined all interview requests. There have been infrequent updates on the website of a foundation set up to benefit his recovery.
The most recent update, posted Friday, said only that Greenwood is “focused on what needs to happen to get home.”
Earlier entries indicated he has made amazing progress.
As a football player, Greenwood was the ultimate overachiever, a walk-on with marginal athletic gifts who became a four-year starter at free safety and a legitimate pro prospect by working harder on the field and in the video room than anyone else.
“He’s really a special kid,” said Pam Cinadr, a family friend and the nurse who first administered to him on the field at PV a year ago today. “He has not changed his attitude one bit. He has worked just as hard at overcoming this as he ever did on the football field.”
The blog at brettgreenwoodfoundation.com reported June 29 that “Brett is amazing the doctors and therapists, and surpassing everything they throw at him. Brett has done more work in these last 10 months than anyone can possibly imagine — and doing it all with the grace and determination that he has always shown on and off the field.”
The website reported that Greenwood’s days are filled with therapy sessions to help restore his brain functions, speech, vision, balance and strength.
He still faces a long road and the long-term prognosis is unknown, apparently even to his doctors.
What is known is that the incident brought out the best in the community and the state that spawned him.
Within days after Greenwood was stricken, a campaign was initiated to get everyone to wear green in support of him on his 24th birthday, Sept. 14.
The “Green for Greenwood” theme has taken off.
Fans at the Pleasant Valley-Bettendorf game Sept. 16 staged a “green-out” with almost everyone wearing green to show their support. Thirty green balloons were released before the game, signifying the jersey number Greenwood wore at Iowa. An even larger green-out was held at the Hawkeyes’ game with Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 24.
Green plastic wristbands that say “Hawks Fly Strong” are being sold to benefit the Brett Greenwood Foundation.
The PV golf team even wore green shirts for the Mississippi Athletic Conference meet. PV students staged a 90-team dodgeball tournament to raise money. Schools and organizations and celebrities all over the state have done things to raise funds and express support.
New York Giants safety Tyler Sash, who regarded Greenwood as a mentor as well as a close friend, has done numerous fundraisers on behalf of his pal.
Before playing in the Super Bowl in February, Sash told the New York Post: “Brett has been with me every step of my life the last four years. And I can promise you he’ll be there on Sunday. I’m playing for two.”
Then there are thousands of individuals such as Peggy Hausler, who have kept Greenwood and his family in their thoughts and prayers for an entire year.
“We’ve had so many good interns here, but I would rank him in the all-star group,” Hausler said. “In terms of kindness and work ethic, he was just great.”
The Greenwoods, although relatively silent about Brett’s progress and prognosis, also are extremely grateful.
“Brett is strong, but could not have come this far without the love and support from everyone,” they reported in the June 29 blog. “We also want to thank you all for respecting Brett and his privacy, and our wish is to continue to allow Brett time to recover at his own pace. When he is ready, he will reach out and speak about his journey — but at this time he is focused on furthering his recovery.”