KATY – Organizers estimated that about $30,000 was raised for the John Ritter Research Program at the inaugural Remembrin’ Benjamin golf tournament held last week in Katy.
The event was in honor of Benjamin Bradford, who passed away in 2012 from a sudden aortic dissection, the same thing that killed actor John Ritter in 2003.
Ritter’s widow Amy Yasbeck joined the Bradford family at Meadowbrook Farms Golf Club to lend her celebrity to the cause.
The family was hoping to raise about $25,000 and said they were overwhelmed by the support shown from Ben’s old friends, complete strangers and former customers from when Ben worked for his dad at Golf USA in Katy.
“I met him at the store,” said golfer Chuck Vitello. “I’m playing for Ben today.”
Ben’s father Bruce Bradford said family members were “in a cloud” in the days following Ben’s death in July 2012. A doctor recommended they reach out to the JRRP, which they promptly did.
Dr. Dianna Milewics, a geneticist who works specifically on aortic dissection, said it can cause sudden death.
“If you know who’s at risk, you can prevent the disease,” she said.
Genetic testing revealed that while Ben’s two younger brothers, Austin and Robby, and his mother Carol, did not have the genetic mutation that led to the aortic dissection, his father did.
“That’s where education becomes important,” Bruce Bradford said. “I’m doing everything I would have done five years ago, but I’m careful what I lift and I take medication to slow the heart down.”
Bradford credits his son with saving his life, as he wouldn’t otherwise have known he had the genetic mutation.
“Shortly after Ben passed away, a customer in his 80s I will call John, came to me and said, ‘He was my friend,’ and we wept together,” Bruce Bradford recalled. “Benjamin had and has friends that transcend decades. I strive every day to be a friend like Benjamin.”
It seems to be working … Many describe Ben as someone who took after his father.
“He was outgoing, kinda like Dad,” brother Robby Bradford said. “He never met a stranger. Once that store opened, he became the most outgoing person.”
Mother Carol Bradford said the golf tournament was a touching moment for family members.
“Ben loved to see his family and friends having a good time and would move mountains to help them in their time of need,” she said. “When we came home Thursday evening the sunset appeared over our garage, which is east. We watch a lot of sunsets and I can’t remember the last time or ever that it has reflected the opposite direction like that. God is good and Ben is with us daily living on in our hearts.”