Fifteen-year-old Bryan Warnecke’s life is a story of courage and fearlessness in the face of tremendous odds. His battle with cystic fibrosis, his amazing physical feats, and his uplifting attitude captured the attention of Colorado band OneRepublic who dedicated their song “I lived” to telling Warnecke’s story in their music video. Warnecke spent several days filming with the band all over the Denver area, including in his home in Castle Pines Village, and his experience culminated with the OneRepublic concert at Red Rocks.
By Amy Shanahan; courtesy photos
One person truly can make a difference in the lives of others, and Castle Pines Village resident Bryan Warnecke continues to prove this time and again. Warnecke has made such an impact in his short life that he even captured the attention of well-known Grammy-nominated Colorado band OneRepublic, who dedicated the music video to their most recent hit “I lived” to telling Warnecke’s story.
Warnecke is a 15-year-old student at Rock Canyon High School who suffers from cystic fibrosis (CF) and yet continues to set examples of amazing courage and physical endurance. Warnecke was diagnosed with CF at birth and has spent countless weeks throughout his life at Children’s Hospital. CF is an incurable disease that affects the lungs and digestive system and makes it difficult to breathe. Despite his affliction, Warnecke is a star hockey goalie, a black diamond skier, and an avid biker.
This past summer, Warnecke along with his dad Steve, undertook an enormous athletic feat. The father and son team completed a 1,065 mile bike ride through 46 cities in Colorado and Wyoming over a period of 43 days. Their ride ended at the Courage Classic, a fundraiser benefiting Children’s Hospital and finding a cure for CF. Warnecke raised a phenomenal $300,000, the most money ever raised by one person in the history of the fundraiser.
Jim Shmerling, CEO of Children’s Hospital Colorado, was overwhelmed by Warnecke’s results. “The money Bryan raised was a record amount of money and for a 15-year-old to have that kind of motivation, especially one who has a chronic illness, is an amazing thing. He’s just a remarkable kid,” commented Shmerling.
Shmerling was approached by Governor Hickenlooper on behalf of OneRepublic and asked if he could recommend a patient at Children’s Hospital who embodied the courage and fortitude that is exemplified in the lyrics to the band’s new song “I lived.”
“We have a number of children who have amazing stories to tell and about a dozen per year become our ambassadors,” remarked Shmerling. “Bryan has been one of our ambassadors and what he did at the Courage Classic was the epitome of the type of child who is inspirational to other children with chronic life threatening disease and an inspiration to their parents.”
According to Warnecke, he received a phone call on behalf of OneRepublic asking if they could tell his story in their video, and a week later he was with a crew of 40 people filming at his home, the hockey rink, Children’s Hospital, and finally at the OneRepublic concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater. “It was super cool – the whole weekend felt larger than life!” exclaimed Warnecke. “[Lead singer] Ryan Tedder is such a nice guy; he’s so caring and so all about helping out the community and giving back. I have the utmost respect for those guys – they were super fun and super great to hang out with.”
Taylor Vandegrift produced the beautiful and inspirational video and said he was overwhelmed by Warnecke’s story and by meeting him in person. “Everything about this experience was amazing. Meeting the Warneckes, the merge of LA and Denver crews, the local support, the live show at Red Rocks, and seeing Bryan interact with the band ... It was all surreal,” Vandegrift remarked.
The video tells Warnecke’s story with the use of flashbacks to his early childhood, shots of him playing hockey, giving himself his medical treatments, aerial shots of him biking in Colorado, and singing and thoroughly enjoying himself at the OneRepublic concert at Red Rocks. The reaction to the video has been phenomenal. To date, the video has well over two million views on YouTube, and it has brought much needed awareness and support to those suffering from CF.
“I have people coming up to me on the streets – it’s been so cool to have this happen to me,” said Warnecke. “I can’t even explain how much my life has changed. Everyone has been so proud and respectful of the video and the reactions are so cool.”
Vandegrift summed up the whole experience by saying, “Bryan is a special kid, an old soul. From the minute we rolled in, he got along with my whole crew and was appreciative and respectful. When we shot the interviews at his house, he was candid and articulate, a rare find in a 15 year old. His parents are truly incredible people and that radiates through him. I expect big things from him in the future; this certainly isn’t the last time he will be in the spotlight.”
To view the “I lived” video by OneRepublic, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0rxydSolwU. To learn more about Children’s Hospital and ways to donate, visit www.childrenscolorado.org.
Father and son team Steve and Bryan Warnecke were joyful and proud at the end of their 1,065 mile bike ride to raise money for Children's Hospital and create awareness about cystic fibrosis. Pictured here, they celebrate a hard-earned and much-deserved victory together!