A former Indianola High School football player’s brain is now in a California lab being studied for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a progressive disease of the brain found in athletes or people who have had severe blows or repeated blows to the head. In Zac Easter’s case it was repeated concussions.
Zac was a linebacker at Indianola High School until 2010 and then graduated from Grand View University in May 2015 with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor’s in finance. He had big goals for the future to head to Wall Street and he dreamed of making big money there.
That all started to slip away when Zac began suffering from headaches, speech problems, blurred vision, loss of balance, depression, paranoia, mood changes and other extreme symptoms.
He hid most of his feelings for most of the years after he realized he had CTE. He saw a handful of doctors but nothing was getting better for Zac. He wrote in journals to express his feeling and the hope that was being lost in life.
Before his 24th birthday he started to think that he needed to tell someone. He told his girlfriend and on his 24th birthday he mentioned to his parents that the doctors said he had CTE. He couldn’t hide his silent struggle anymore. Things became more noticeably going downhill.
Zac told his mom that he wanted his brain donated to science to help others. On December 19, 2015, His girlfriend received a text at 12:24am that said “Thank you for everything, You’ve helped me through so much and never ever blame yourself for anything.” She called and texted Zac’s father and when he went to check on Zac all he found was a note that said “Sorry, dad. I broke into the truck.” His family went down to Lake Ahquabi where Zac spent a good amount of time.
Zac has snuck out of his parent’s house, took his shotgun and took his own life. He had even called the 911 dispatcher and left an apology note for the first responder who would find him. At 12:43 am, the 911 dispatcher was on the line when Zac took his own life, shooting himself in the chest so his brain would not be affected.
The Easter family is still struggling with it more than a year later but they have formed a nonprofit called CTE Hope. They have big goals to help other people who are struggling with CTE. The Easter’s are still football fans but look to make the sport safer because the sport “literally killed him.”
For more information on Zac’s story and nonprofit go to http://www.cte-hope.org/.
Photo by UMFC Pueblo