Friends rally around family of UNT student in critical condition
A University of North Texas student who is active in local theater and music is in a Fort Worth hospital awaiting brain surgery after suffering a rare brain hemorrhage on New Year’s Day.
Jackson Strecher, 18, a 2013 Denton High School graduate who is in his freshman year studying history at UNT, is being heavily sedated in the intensive care unit at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, where officials say he remains in critical condition.
Friends are working around the clock to provide support for the family.
“It’s overwhelming and humbling,” his mother, Phaedra Strecher, told the Denton Record-Chronicle. “We can feel it from here. It really, really helps. Keep it coming.”
An online site has been created to raise funds for Strecher’s medical expenses at www.gofundme.com/HelpforJackson, and a benefit is in the works for later this month, said Shane Wilson of the rock band The Lead Pipes, for which Jackson Strecher plays guitar.
The brain hemorrhage on Jan. 1 was brought on by a condition known as arteriovenous malformation, an entanglement of arteries and veins that burst, Phaedra Strecher said. He was first admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton and later transported to the Fort Worth hospital.
Phaedra Strecher said her son will remain heavily sedated to keep him stable and reduce swelling around his brain until doctors can operate, which the family anticipates will occur within the next two to three weeks. Jackson Strecher has had limited responses since being admitted to the hospital and faces a long recovery period following surgery, his mother said.
“We’re in a wait-and-see period,” she said. “It’s pretty scary. We don’t know how much permanent damage he has. ... They told us that they usually find this condition in autopsies.
“We’re very lucky he’s alive. We’re not out of the woods yet in any way.”
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website, neurological arteriovenous malformations affect approximately 300,000 Americans.
Jackson’s father, Michael Strecher, and his girlfriend, Ariel Bailey, have joined his mother and a few others at the hospital. At times they’ve played Beatles music; the band lists the group as an influence on their music.
Bailey has been reporting Jackson Strecher’s progress through an online journal for family and friends and to make a record for Jackson Strecher on all that’s occurred.
“It’s been a good way to keep everything straight,” said Bailey, 19, who is studying English and French at UNT. “This definitely kind of helps me deal with the things that have happened ... definitely it’s cathartic.”
In recent days, a childhood friend also shared a YouTube video about Jackson Strecher and how to support him. The video can be accessed by visiting http://bit.ly/1krrafN.
Jackson Strecher is no stranger to the Denton theater community, either. His father serves as facilities director for Denton Community Theatre.
The news of Jackson’s Strecher’s condition came as a shock to Mildred Peveto, manager of the PointBank Black Box Theatre and educational director for the company’s Theatre School.
She said she met Jackson as a young boy when his father was cast in his first Denton Community Theatre show, and she said she’s seen him grow up.
Over the years, Jackson Strecher has participated in the company’s Theatre School and several Denton theater productions including Narnia; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which he and his father both performed in; and Denton Community Theater’s one-act adaption of Disney’s High School Musical in which Jackson Strecher shared the lead role of Troy.
As a student at Denton High, Strecher was theater president during his senior year and had served as the newspaper’s entertainment editor, according to district employees.
Peveto said Jackson Strecher and his family have an entire theater family thinking of them.
“The Strechers are extremely precious to us all,” Peveto said. “We’re all devastated and shocked. Everyone in their own way is thinking good thoughts and praying for them daily.
“We love [Jackson], and we’re praying for him and can’t wait until he’s back with us.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.