Teen With Brain Injury Gets Support In Hometown Of Simsbury

By SUSAN CAMPBELL | Courant Staff Writer
May 11, 2008

It is their only night together, and Greg and Davi Bubnash are in a church basement at the weekly meeting of Simsbury's Boy Scout Troop No. 175.

They're here to talk about Mike, their 19-year-old Eagle Scout son, the writer, the science nerd. In February 2007, Mike suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. He can't walk or talk on his own and he's is in a rehabilitation center in New Hampshire. Insurance money is dwindling, and the three Scout troops in town plan a June fundraiser.

Davi spends most of the week with Mike while he battles back. She comes home Wednesday night, and then Greg takes off early from his job at Hartford Life on Friday to spend the weekend with Mike. The Bubnashes have a 15-year-old son, Steve, still at home.

Time together is precious, but they're here, Greg with notes on an index card and a digital photo album of his oldest, curly-haired son.

Greg smiles as he tells the Scouts about Mike — nicknamed Pyro for his love of Scout-sponsored fire-building. Greg reads them Mike's college essay about climbing a New Mexico mountain. Up top, Mike wrote, it wasn't the view from 12,000-plus feet that moved him. It was the effort it took to get there.

"And now Mike is on another journey," Greg tells the Scouts, who sit rapt at his feet.

A few Scouts raise hands for questions, and then one asks a tough one: How much will Mike regain?

Greg smiles, and says he doesn't know.

"But this is Mike's journey," he says. "And you are on it with him."

All of Simsbury is, in fact, on a journey with an affable kid who had a bad break.

The Accident

On Feb. 9, 2007, Mike Bubnash was driving home from visiting a friend in Canton when his car left the road and hit a telephone pole. He was flown by Life Star helicopter to Hartford Hospital. Mike survived the night, and the next day, Steve created a page on the social website Facebook. Mike had finished one semester at Union College in New York, and Steve figured he'd alert Mike's college friends.

The responses began as a trickle, and quickly erupted into a deluge. Simsbury — quiet, affluent town where one can almost believe Talcott Ridge will hold back bad news — reacted first with hot meals that came to the Bubnash home for more than a year. Checks started to roll in. The town's first selectwoman hosted a fundraiser. Classmates burned CDs, left Internet postings, called and visited. People fell over themselves to do something for this quiet family and their smiling kid.

The outpouring stunned the Bubnashes; Davi hasn't caught up writing thank-you notes, though she desperately wants to.

"Use whatever adjectives you want. I can't even come up with the words," Davi said. "We all get so involved in our daily routines, and then something happens and somebody needs help, and a lot of people want to do the right thing. I'm really grateful for that."