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Cage fighting for a cause

Janice KurbjunSummit Daily News
Special to the DailySteve Webster, right, with friend and Red, White & Blue colleague John Zeising. Webster is suffering from a painful illness related to a snowboarding accident, and Zeising and others are doing what they can to help him with medical expenses.
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Brent Chapman of the Red, White and Blue Fire District makes his debut Friday in a cage fight – an event that’s also meant to raise money for disabled former Red, White and Blue firefighter Steve Webster. The bouts start at 7 p.m. (doors at 6) at Red & Jerry’s on Santa Fe Boulevard in Englewood. A portion of Chapman’s ticket sales as well as some of the general proceeds will be donated to Webster. Chapman, from Littleton, has been training in Jui-Jitsu and Muay Thai kickboxing for several years and is excited to debut this weekend. But he’s more excited to let Webster, a Fairplay resident, know the fire district “is looking out for him.” “He’s still part of the family,” Chapman said. “We still love (him) and we’ll still take care of (him).”The fire district also held a December 2009 fundraiser, which collected more than $16,000 for Webster’s medical expenses. Webster suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2007 when he fell snowboarding and hit his head hard on the snowpack. He was wearing a helmet – something he’s thankful for. “Even as bad as he is now, the result of that injury could have been much worse,” long-time friend and Denver resident John Zeising said. It wasn’t until 2009 that he began to experience difficulties in cognitive function, which culminated in a seizure-like episode while at work at the fire department. Now, he’s gone from decades of firefighting, which included lending paramedic and firefighting assistance around the nation – and serving as a pilot of Frisco’s Flight for Life Lifeguard 2 – to being indoors 24 hours a day most of the week with chronic pain.It was difficult to assess the initial symptoms – experts at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix in 2008 couldn’t make a diagnosis, Zeising said. But in the past six months, doctors have attributed the symptoms to the accident. “He’s not able to get around very well, converse and his memory isn’t good. It’s pretty scary,” Zeising said. Webster experiences severe migraine headaches, which Zeising said are often a 10 out of 10 on the pain scale. They’re coupled with intermittent effects to speech, thought processes, memory and balance – and there’s no known cure. Webster currently sees therapists to try to “re-grow” brain connections that can help with balance, memory and thoughts, Zeising said. And every few months, he’s seeing a new specialist to try to tap into possible remedies. In May, he sees a new neurologist in Denver. Webster also has a rare congenital brain malformation that could be enhancing the symptoms, doctors say. It’s called a Chiari malformation – herniation of the base of the cerebellum that blocks the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. Problematic symptoms generally show themselves early on in life. Those who aren’t symptomatic in youth generally go through life and never realize they’re affected.”There’s a lot they don’t understand,” said Zeising, who’s been doing his share of research the past two years. Though the event is designed to raise money for Webster’s treatment, it’s also about letting Webster know he’s in the thoughts of fellow firefighters and the rest of the community. “More important than financially, this effort will be important to Steve and his wife (Eileen) emotionally – support-wise,” Zeising said. “Any time a member of the community sends him an email or talks to him, it brightens his day.”To purchase tickets, email Brent Chapman at bchapman@rwbfire.org, call (303) 434-6203 or visit http://www.xtremecagewars.com. For more information on providing assistance to Steve Webster, contact John Zeising at jzeising@rwbfire.org or (720) 202-2170.


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