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Brad Woodruff: An Unexpected Face of Heart Failure

If you were looking for Brad Woodruff a decade ago, you would likely find him on the soccer or lacrosse fields at Union College. Woodruff remembers those early college days as the time before his entire life changed in an instant.

Brad and wife shae outside near trees.
Brad and wife Shaelin.

That instant occurred during winter break of his sophomore year. He was playing pick-up hockey on New Year’s Day when he unexpectedly lost consciousness for 15 seconds. Subsequently, a visit to the hospital revealed life-changing news—doctors diagnosed Brad with idiopathic cardiomyopathy. Within a week, doctors also surgically implanted a defibrillator in his chest.


Reflecting on that challenging period, Brad recalls, “Having [sports] taken away was not fun. Luckily, I had a good support system at school and at home.”

Now 31-years-old, Brad still grapples with how heart failure has changed his life. “No one would think I have it. I think the hardest part is all my friends are pretty active. They are working out or skiing or playing pick-up hockey. Unfortunately, I am no longer able to partake in those activities anymore,” said Brad.

Constant concern looms as engaging in intense activities poses the risk of triggering his defibrillator. “It’s tough. I always think about it. It’s always in the back of my mind—is it going to go off now or today?” 

Fortunately, Brad has found solace in playing golf, a sport he can still engage in despite his health challenges. With the support of his wife, Shaelin, Brad decided to start a golf tournament this year. Shaelin notes, “He cares deeply for those who are dealing with heart failure. And I think his story resonates with a lot of people, especially since he is young and appears healthy.” 


Brad and wife on a sunny day golfing.
Brad & Shaelin golfing.

The couple is organizing The First Annual Woodruff Golf Classic on May 31 at the Simsbury Farms Golf Course in West Simsbury, CT, to benefit The HeartBrothers Foundation. “The past couple of years, I wanted to help out the heart failure community and raise money for a good cause. The nurses at Hartford Hospital kept mentioning the HeartBrothers. It’s the perfect fit,” said Brad.

“As I get older, I realize things are beyond our control and everyone has their own challenges. You never truly know what other people are going through. But you can always work to transform a negative situation into a positive one. Giving back to the community is rewarding and helps ease my worries about my diagnosis,” said Brad.


Brad, currently positioned low on the transplant list, has been able to maintain his health and keep his golf game in top form. Anyone playing him on the course should brace themselves for a competitive match.


 To learn more about the Woodruff Golf Classic, click here.

1 Comment

I'm so proud of Brad and Shaelin for raising money and awareness about this devastating disease. I saw first-hand just how devastating it can be as I lost my mom in 2016 to heart failure. To Brad and Shaelin, thank you for helping all patients with heart failure have hope for the future! Love you both, Aunt Laura.

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