Justin Brown

Meridan Cavanaugh, Student Life Editor

Every student has a story, and Justin Brown’s is quite a tale.

It starts with his love for medieval times. Every year, he goes to the Scarborough Fair in Waxahachie, Texas.

“It’s pretty fun,” Brown said. “I dress up, though my parents don’t, and you go to jousting, and you get to watch really short men lift really tall trees and throw them, I think that’s called caber tossing. There’s also falconry events.”

“Justin asked me to go with him a couple of times, and it sounds pretty cool, but I’ve never been able to go,” junior Alex Griffin said. “He’s really excited about it every year though, and he dresses up and brings his swords and everything.”

In addition to participating in the Scarborough Fair, Brown wants to learn sword-fighting skills. Normally, somebody would take lessons and pay for them, but an unfortunate situation has led to all of Justin’s lessons being found and paid for.

His freshman year, Brown was diagnosed with Wegener’s granulomatosis, a vascular autoimmune disease that makes healthy blood cells attack each other. There is no cure for Wegener’s, but it is treatable, and Brown has been battling the disease with frequent hospital visits ever since his diagnosis.

“You aren’t guaranteed to die from it anymore, but there’s still a chance that you can,” Brown said. “Forty years ago it was a death sentence, but they’ve really advanced the treatment since then.”

“I was pretty sad when I found out Justin had Wegener’s, but he’s fighting through it and he’s still the same best friend he’s always been,” junior Matt Goodrich said.

“He’s a really great guy, and I’m glad he’s doing okay with his treatment,” Griffin added.

Because of his disease, he was accepted into the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s program. The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes to kids who have life-threatening medical conditions.

“My first wish was to meet my favorite author, Brian Jacques, who wrote the Redwall series, but he died before I could meet him so that didn’t work out,” Brown said.

Justin’s love for medieval times and the activities from the period led to the idea for his second wish: sword-fighting lessons.

“I haven’t had any lessons yet, it’s kind of a weird wish so it’s taking a while,” Brown said. They gave me two options: I could have a weeklong course at some facility, or I could do 5 months of one lesson a week locally. I chose the five months because I thought it would be more fun.”

Justin has two of his own medieval-style swords, a smaller one and a larger, heavier one, and hopes to learn multiple fighting styles in the lessons.

“Hopefully they’ll teach me more than fencing, I really want to learn medieval-style fighting,” Brown said. “I’m really interested in the fighting style of the twelfth century era. I think I’ll get to use my sword that is smaller and more my size later in the lessons, but at first I’m sure we’ll start with wasters [disposable wooden practice swords] and footwork.”

Brown says he wants to fight in the Scarborough Fair contests and re-enactments someday, but he won’t be able to until he gets better at handling a sword. In the future, he also wants to take part in LARPing, or live-action role-playing, where people re-enact games, movies, and books in a real-life setting.

“I don’t actually fight people yet but I will,” Brown said. “I will LARP some day. It’s one of my aspirations.”