Jason Graham is the 2010 recipient of the Invisible Disabilities Association Inspiration Honors Award. Jason was chosen based upon his volunteerism with the Daniel Graham Foundation and his diligent work as a full-time employee of tw telecom while living each day with the personal struggle of chronic illness.
Jason Graham grew up in southeast Denver in a family of five children. His father, Tom Graham, played in the NFL from 1972-78. His brother, Daniel Graham, currently plays for the Denver Broncos. Jason graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1991. In October 2002, at the age of 29, Jason was diagnosed with both a pituitary brain tumor and kidney disease. As a newly married young man with a 2-year-old son, the diagnosis seemed like devastating news. On February 18, 2003, the day before his 30th birthday, Jason had successful brain surgery. Over the next four years, Jason’s kidneys continued to deteriorate.
In December 2006, his mother Marilyn donated a kidney to Jason and he had a transplant. Unfortunately, the transplant began to fail within a couple of months. In the four years since the transplant, doctors have been able to keep the transplant functioning at a minimum. Jason is currently searching for a donor for a second kidney transplant. He credits his faith in God, support of his family and friends, and good medical care with keeping him emotionally strong during his many trials. Throughout his illnesses, Jason has continued to work full-time in the telecommunications industry and volunteer with the Daniel Graham Foundation. Jason and his wife also support the National Kidney Foundation and advocate for better healthcare and financial assistance for families dealing with chronic illnesses. He has been married to his wife Michelle for over 12 years and has a 10-year-old son named Kendall.
Jason said after recieving his award, “By telling my own story, I hope to bring greater awareness to those with chronic medical conditions and encourage others who find themselves in similar situations.” Jason did just that, as there wasn’t a dry eye in the room and everyone gave him a standing ovation!
Update on Jason: Jason has been in and out of the hospital since November, away from work and dealing with more complications.
Update on Jason: Michelle starting writing articles to share Jason’s health struggles and the family’s challenges.
Update on Jason: Jason has spent most of 2011 in the hospital battling a rare brain disorder, along with his failing kidneys. He received surgery, then was unconscious for a couple of weeks. One day he woke up and called his wife and family. This was a joyous time, as this gave them more time with Jason and hope.
IDA Grieves the Loss of Jason Graham: Jason was rolled outside in his bed by his nurses on Saturday April 2nd to enjoy the beautiful spring day and to get some fresh air. That night, he unexpectedly passed away from a sudden, massive brain bleed. Jason was an amazing son, brother, husband, father and friend to many. The IDA Team is so grateful for the opportunity to honor Jason and share his story of courage and perseverance through is almost 10 year battle. He will be dearly missed by us all.