One thing has been clear over the years: Never count out Brett Greenwood. The former Pleasant Valley and Iowa Hawkeye football standout has spent the past two years recovering from an anoxic brain injury that was the result of a heart arrhythmia, which occurred while he was working out at Pleasant Valley High School's Spartan Stadium on Sept. 9, 2011.
Family members say that given a negative prognosis by doctors, Greenwood has made significant progress in his recovery.
"Brett is doing very good," said Lindsey Brezenski, Greenwood's sister. "The progression he's made from two years ago to now is tremendous. The news that we got after his injury was that it was going to be a negative outcome and that it wasn't going to be very good. The progress he has made today is beyond all odds that the doctors and all the medical professionals thought."
Greenwood, who is living at home, still has a long way to go.
"The things we are working on still are short-term memory," Brezenski said. "He knows who people are and he remembers basically through about six months from his injury. He knows who we are, his family, his friends, which is amazing. I want to stress that they gave us the prognosis that he would be blind for the rest of his life, and now he has 20/20 vision.
"He still cannot walk," Brezenski said. "He is in a wheelchair, but he's progressing and doing very well in rehab so we're hoping that very soon he will be able to. He's walking with a walker at rehab and doing very well with that but we're hoping that in the next couple of months he'll be starting to walk on his own."
Greenwood and his family received an outpouring of support from the community and throughout the state of Iowa following his injury.
After two years of requesting privacy to allow Greenwood to work on his recovery, the family wants to show its appreciation. To do so, the Brett Greenwood Foundation will hold a 3-mile run/walk, "Run 3 for 30," on Sunday at Crow Creek Park, Bettendorf. Greenwood plans to attend.
"I can't thank the state of Iowa, the Quad-City community for how supportive they've been," said Brezenski, who is the event organizer.
"It's made his recovery better, our recovery better, and from the Greenwood family, we can't thank you guys enough for all the support. The cards, the prayers, everything that everyone has done for us. It's going to be hard to repay what everyone has done for us. It's been tremendous for Brett and his recovery."
The event will raise money for the foundation, which was created to let people show their support and to raise awareness of brain injuries. Funds also will go toward a scholarship in Greenwood's name at the University of Iowa, something that he expressed interest in during his senior season.
"There's not much knowledge or education or resources regarding brain injury and the rehab process," Brezenski said. "Not many people see anoxic brain injuries, especially at 24 years of age like my brother at that point. So we want to spread the word and get more information about that and support this whole process. That is why we truly believe Brett is still here today, so we can spread the word and support to other families who might go through this."
Greenwood has always been the example of hard work overcoming adversity.
After starting at multiple positions for Pleasant Valley, he walked on with the football team at Iowa. He ended up becoming a four-year starting free safety on a defense that took Iowa to an Orange Bowl championship over Georgia Tech in 2010. He finished his career as one of three Hawkeyes to record 200 tackles and 12 interceptions in a career.
"That's been his whole life," Brezenski said. "He's been the underdog in football. Here, they were counting him out at the beginning of his injury and now he's proven everyone completely wrong."