June 2nd, 1991 to December 19th, 2015
Zac Easter was a 24-year-old man who silently suffered with CTE for six years. After having more than five documented concussions and numerous more undocumented concussions, Zac began suffering from constant and severe headaches, slurred speech, blurred vision, loss of balance, brain tremors, depression and anxiety, paranoia, and dementia, among other physical and mental ailments. He began to feel this disease strip away his pride and determination and fill his life with hopelessness.
In December 2015, Zac ended his life in order to donate his brain to concussion and CTE research. He left several journals describing the day-to-day progression of this disease throughout those six years, the hopelessness he felt because there were no doctors, treatment programs, or options to keep this disease from claiming his life, and the other ways in which he was negatively impacted by CTE. Zac made it clear that more has to be done to protect athletes from themselves, coaches, parents, and athletic trainers who don’t yet understand the long-term effects of concussions and the trauma to a brain from multiple subconcussive hits.
He knew that more research is necessary to prevent other athletes from getting CTE and selflessly donated his brain to science to give others hope. He made it clear that there needs to be more dialogue about this illness and that people suffering from this disease need a safe place to try to express what they are experiencing. He didn’t want others to be afraid to talk about what is happening to their minds, but, instead, to work through their pain with their loved ones rather than suffer alone.
Although Zac grew up wrestling and playing baseball, football was his main sport throughout high school. He was a fullback and linebacker and was always one of the toughest on the field, refusing to ever take himself out of the game.
During his senior year, Zac had 3 concussions from football within 2 months, and many more undiagnosed concussions and sub-concussive hits before and after that time.
After high school, Zac received another concussion from a flash bomb during tactical training. His last diagnosed concussion resulted from being rear-ended by a person driving 50mph.
Zac did not tell anyone about his health struggles and suspicions of having CTE until close to the last year of his life. He never wanted to be taken out of the game or be seen differently by the eyes of those he loved.
He saw dozens of doctors, some who genuinely wanted to help and some who made Zac feel even more hopeless. However, none of the medical professionals he saw were able to ease his pain. Some of them did not even know what CTE was.
It was when Zac realized that there truly is nothing medically to be done about his CTE that he gave up the last bit of hope he had for his life.
This is what we aim to change.
Zac suffered from many symptoms, beginning when he was 18, as a result of his CTE. The symptoms that interfered with his daily life most prominently included:
- constant and extreme headaches
- slurred speech
- blurred vision
- loss of balance
- depression and anxiety
- brain tremors
- drastic mood changes
- "I don't feel right"