Brayden: Heart hero, author, and so much more!
Meet Brayden, a 17 year old with Transposition of the Great Arteries. A CHAMPS camper for 7 years, Brayden is a mentor and an inspiration for younger heart heroes. Below he shares his journey, passions, and hopes for the future!
My Writing Journey
Having a heart defect has impacted my life so much and has really helped me figure out who I am. When I was young, I really wanted to join sports like hockey. However, I always got too scared to join anything due to my heart condition because I was worried that something would happen. Little things like that would cause my younger self to be anxious, and at the time, I didn’t know anyone who had heart conditions similar to mine. For a long time, I thought I was the only one with this weird scar in the middle of my chest. I didn’t have anyone around me who felt the same way, and so I never joined anything. I’m so glad I didn’t because then I wouldn’t have found my true passion and interests; writing and other creative hobbies.
Figuring out my passions has been such a fulfilling journey to me. It all started with writing stories when I was in the second grade. It became a lot of fun for me to create these stories about my friends and I, as well as drawing pictures to go along with the story. I wrote one of my most favorite stories at the beginning of fourth grade. This book inspired me to become a writer and figure out exactly who I am, and showed me that I could use writing as a form of therapy to express how I feel or what I’ve been through. This book was titled “September Boy”.
I became inspired to start writing stories in a new and different way than what books are usually written like. I started writing “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories. I started using this approach for all my stories to make reading interesting and more fun since I started noticing that people felt like reading was boring. Another unique thing I started doing was writing my stories like a TV show. I started calling my chapters “Episodes” and each book was a Season. This helped me keep my stories at a length that was easy to manage and able to be stapled together. Each Episode/Chapter had a length of around 10-30ish pages. I would have around 3-5 Episodes/Chapters for each Season.
In 2018, I started to become less interested in writing after going through a really rough time. My stories became unfinished and the quality just wasn’t what it used to be so I stopped writing for a while. I knew that I needed to write because it was my therapy and something that made me happy. I knew I needed to find a new way of writing that could help me get through what I was going through. That’s when music and songwriting came into my life.
Music has always been a part of my life. It’s inspired my stories and has allowed me to really understand how I feel. Writing songs allowed me to write with more than one meaning, expressing how I truly felt and things I’ve gone through without directly telling people. I have created and released two full length albums with thirteen songs on each, 2 Extended Plays (EP) and a single.
Whenever I wrote a song, I could envision a whole music video. So I became interested in Filmmaking and Photography. I came up with ideas to create a whole musical film to go along with the music. During COVID, I made a full length documentary film and a few music videos for my second album. With photography, I created and shot my own album covers, promotional pictures. Not only did I use photography for my music, but I also started to create official covers for all my books since their covers were hand drawn.
I’ve been returning to writing books recently – rewriting them, creating new covers, and uploading them online to free reading websites/apps such as Wattpad, Inkitt, and Sweek.
For the future and what I’m working towards, I’m thinking of starting a career in music and writing, and releasing books. I’m excited for what’s to come as I have so many ideas and stories I want to tell in every form of art. I’m taking it one step at a time, however, my hope for the future is to become an Author, Musician, Filmmaker/Director, a Photographer, as well as sharing my stories, creativity, and helping people through my art.
The Impact of CHAMPS Camp
I attended the first CHAMPS Camp in 2015 and have been going every year since. It was an experience I won’t ever forget. When I first went, I was excited and quite nervous. Excited to finally meet people who were just like me but scared because I didn’t really know what to expect. However, I had the best time and I’ve learnt so many things. One of the things I learned being there and probably the one I will always remember, is that just because I have a heart condition, doesn’t mean that I can’t do something. The activities we did made me feel more fearless and doing them with other people like me was so amazing. I became good friends with a girl who had the same heart defect as me and it was such a special moment. Being able to relate to each other made me feel so seen.
This camp showed me that I can do anything I want without having to worry about my heart. While playing sports at camp has helped me overcome my fear, my interests have shifted and I am no longer interested in hockey. I find it so hard to find the words to explain how much this camp means to me as it has helped me become the person I am today. Now that I’ve graduated from CHAMPS, I’m excited to come back as a counselor and continue to be a part of this amazing organization.