Bryan Stow has little memory of that fateful day of March 31, 2011.
A lifelong fan of the San Francisco Giants, he was all but beaten to death after he and two of his buddies had a clash with “adult bullies,” as Stow refers to his attackers, in the parking lot of Dodgers Stadium.
He spent nine months in a coma, needing assistance from a ventilator and feeding tube while fighting for his life.
Stow has the ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ an appropriate ’80s tune by the band Survivors to tell of his long journey just to his present day condition.
“I had to learn to live again,” he said to the group made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores that filled the Weston Ranch High Performing Arts building on Friday. “I had to learn how to speak again – I had to learn how to walk again.”
Stow, 47, is able to walk with use of a cane and other supportive devices in case of a fall. At Weston Ranch, however, he made his entrance onto the stage using a pair of crutches while wearing his Jeremy Affeldt No. 41 jersey.
Affeldt along with former third base coach Tim Flannery and all-time great Barry Bonds are the many from the Giants organization who have reached out to Stow and his family.
Many others have also helped by donating to the Bryan Stow Foundation, which was founded out of survival, courage and triumph over tragedy with hope of helping communities put an end to bullying and fan violence.
‘I’m on a mission to tell my story,” he said.
Jennifer Oreiro, who is also a Giants fan, was moved.
“He was inspiring,” said the Weston Ranch senior. “His message was also about never giving up.”
She and the many students in the jam-packed auditorium took the Stow anti-bullying pledge – Don’t be a bystander; be an up-stander; speak up; reach out and help others; and lead by example.
Stow is one of the most sought-after school speakers, according to Weston Ranch Principal Francine Baird.
For the past year, he’s talked to students – elementary school, high school, and even a juvenile hall – at the various sites on most Fridays, from as far north as Chico to Orange County in Southern California.
At Weston Ranch, Stow was joined by his mother, Ann Stow, and his speech language pathologist Brandy Dickinson.
Ann and her husband Dave Stow are Bryan’s main caregivers. He has others on hand to help him get ready for the day. “I’m told I’ll need them for the rest of my life,” said Bryan Stow, who is a father of two.
Tyler, 17, is a senior and starting quarterback of the Scotts Valley High Falcons football team. Tabatha Stow, 14, also attends Scotts Valley High.
Bryan Stow, who lives with his folks in the Santa Cruz area community of Capitola, said his life was changed forever by Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, who are both serving time in prison after coping plea deals for the attack.
Stow, who enjoyed working out, going to concerts and movies, was a paramedic at the time. He and his two friends, both paramedics, flew down to support their beloved Giants against the Los Angeles Dodgers in this longtime rivalry game.
He has vague memories, if any, of that time, according to his mother. “We were there to send our love to the Giants,” Bryan Stow said.
Love turned into hate as the three made their way through the parking lot while trying to hunt down a taxi. The attackers repeatedly kicked Stow in the head and ribs – he had already suffered a fractured skull after taking a fall.
Stow suffered severe brain damage and nearly died.
He fought back and lived to tell his stories.
He suffers from sleep apnea, waking up every morning at around 4 o’clock. He starts his days with coffee, juice and a variety of medications.
Before he arises, Stow takes eight pills – some of the meds help in preventing seizures and blood clots, Ann Stow said.
He takes another 4½ by noon and 12 more by the evening. “I take 24½ (pills) a day,” Stow said.
He’s thankful for the many people who have helped along way, including Dickinson, who encouraged him to spread his message.
She began working with him in 2013. Stow, in trying to re-learn basic communication skills, went to a preschool during this early stage of his recovery.
From young children to adults, he began to find his purpose in life in spreading his anti-bullying message.
Stow, who hopes to put an end to fan violence, speaks with compassion and humor. He’s still waving the black and orange flag of the SF Giants.
“This is our year – it’s that every even year (2010, 2012, and 2014) in which the Giants win the World Series,” said Stow, who appeared a bit concerned over the 2016 team and its bullpen woes.
Earlier in the day, he talked to eighth-grade students from WRHS feeder schools of August Knodt, Great Valley and George Komure.
As for the high school, Stow, who had a slide show displaying various stages of his recovery on the projection screen, featured faces of youngsters who committed suicide as result of being bullied.
The statistics were alarming – 14 percent of high school students nationwide have considered suicide, 7 percent have attempted suicide and 30 percent were bullies who were victims of bullies.
“This has got to stop,” he said.
Since he began delivering his anti-bullying campaign, Stow has visited 41 different places. This year, including WRHS, he’s made about half dozen visits to the various school sites.
Stow’s next stop will be Laguna Nigel in San Diego. In the spring, he has a two-week speaking engagement in Hawaii.
The State Legislature in Sacramento recently recognized him with a Humanitarian Award.
“Bullies destroyed my life,” he said. “If left unchecked, they could destroy you and your loved ones.”
For more information on the Bryan Stow Foundation, log on to www.bryanstowfoundation.org.