Our Story

Mark your calendars for the 2023 Bridger & Essex Grebe Softball Challenge on August 5 at Thiensville Village Park.

The story of Bridger Stowe and Essex Hart Grebe is one of hope, strength and courage in the face overwhelming obstacles.

Bridger and Essex

Bridger was born on August 11, 2001. His brother, Essex, was born on January 14, 2008.

Both were born with Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD), a progressive genetic disorder that mainly affects the nervous system and muscles, worsening over time. Children who suffer from INAD are healthy at birth, but begin developing symptoms of the condition by age two.

Children with INAD will exhibit developmental delays and eventually lose skills they previously had, including most voluntary movement and vision. INAD is difficult to diagnose, and there is currently no cure—only treatment and therapies that can dramatically improve the child’s quality of life.

Despite their condition, Bridger and Essex inspired their family, friends, and others with their courage and resiliency. They loved those around them and their smiles provided true warmth.

The Grebe family at the 2022 Softball Challenge.

Bridger passed away from complications related to INAD on August 31, 2010. Essex passed away on October 25, 2015.

Their memories live on, and we celebrate their lives each year with the Bridger & Essex Grebe Softball Challenge, a charity softball game.

Money raised during the event support the Fund, which has two goals. First, it supports families with children who have needs similar to those of Bridger and Essex, but who do not have the good fortune we did to be able to afford the life-changing therapy, assistance, and equipment that make such a difference. And second, the money raised supports research directed at finding a cure for INAD. In recent years researchers have moved much closer to finding that cure – and because of your generosity the Fund is able to support that work.

— The Grebe Family