Christopher Glenn had closed up the taproom at Dry County Brewing in Kennesaw, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb, and hopped into his car for the ride home on Jan. 6, 2018. He’d just exited the interstate and was sitting at the off-ramp when his life changed in a split second.
“A drunk driver had passed out behind the wheel on the highway,” explains Christopher. “He came flying up onto the off-ramp and hit me at about 60 miles an hour.”
Christopher knew it was a strong hit. The first responders credited his well-built Jeep with saving his life.
“They said if it was any other vehicle I’d be dead,” he remembers. “It felt like a bomb had gone off.”
While he was stunned, Christopher saw no blood and felt no broken bones so he went home. It wasn’t until the next day when he realized there was something very wrong. Christopher went to the E.R. where they confirmed he did not walk away from the accident unscathed.
“I’d suffered a severe concussion where the brain began to swell,” explains Christopher. “The next day is when those symptoms really started to set in.”
A Difficult Diagnosis
That was only the beginning of a months-long odyssey to get a handle on his diagnosis. Both he and his family saw changes that were confounding. Everyone knew something wasn’t right.
“It took about four months after that before somebody finally said ‘Your symptoms are extraordinary,’” he says.
Christopher went back to another doctor for a CAT scan and specialized MRI.
“When the MRI results had come back it had shown atrophy in three areas of my brain,” says Christopher. “My brain literally weighs less right now than it did before the accident. So I lost volume.”
His symptoms continued to get worse.
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“My tremors were horrible. Sometimes I couldn’t walk because they were so bad. I had extreme trouble communicating, speaking, finding my words,” he explains.
After months of searching, Christopher found the right doctors. They diagnosed him with a severe traumatic brain injury which resulted in atrophy of the brain and brain damage.
“I sometimes realized I didn’t know who I was, where I was, why I was there,” says Christopher. “And this would be mid-afternoon and I’d look in a mirror and I wouldn’t recognize myself.”
One of the most distressing effects of his brain injury is his memory loss. Christopher says he forgets things in real time, just moments after they happen. Even watching a movie is challenging because he has forgotten the first half of it by the time it ends.
“The only time I can regain memories is if it’s extraordinary. Something extraordinary happens or I can attach it to an emotion,” he says.
Christopher is a year and a half into his recovery and has made big gains. His tremors are improving and his speech is progressing, though not back to normal. He can drive again but he can’t work and lives with his parents who support him. Already, his medical and therapy bills are well over $50,000.
Christopher’s Accident Inspires a Movement
Shortly after Christopher’s accident, Dry County Brewing partnered with Lyft to offer half off rides to customers leaving the brewery. But everyone realized it just wasn’t enough.
“The founder of Dry County Brewing Co. [Trey Sinclair] said he’d been sitting on this idea for a while but he didn’t have time,” explains Christopher. “He said ‘You have the perfect platform for this idea.’”
Bottleshare was born.
Bottleshare is a nonprofit organization created to help craft beverage workers who have experienced extreme hardship outside of the workplace.
“The foundation of Bottleshare is to be that team for them,” explains Christopher. “To be that support system that they wouldn’t otherwise have.”
Bottleshare, a Craft Beverage Nonprofit
Christopher says he’s lucky because his family has supported him throughout his recovery. But he knows not everyone has that type of support.
“This is my way of paying it forward to a community that lifted me up and held me high and wouldn’t let me fall even when I wanted to,” explains Christopher. “Even in my darkest moments as I battled through questioning my own life and depression and anxiety. All of these things I’d never experienced before.”
Bottleshare primarily raises funds by working with breweries. Christopher recently approached Mitch Steele of New Realm Brewing about partnering for a fundraiser.
“Mitch and I brewed a special beer,” Christopher says. “It was brewed with a special Norwegian farmhouse yeast. And we called it Victory or Valhalla.”
They made 10 barrels of Victory or Valhalla.
“Through the sale of that specific beer at both locations of New Realm (Atlanta and Virginia Beach), they are donating 100 percent of the profits back to Bottleshare,” he says.
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While making and selling beer for the nonprofit is the backbone of Bottleshare, they also accept personal donations and sell merchandise.
The nonprofit will be raising funds for the next six months and then will start taking applications around the first of 2020 from craft beverage workers who need help.
Early supporters of Bottleshare include Atlanta-area breweries Dry County, Burnt Hickory, New Realm, and Pontoon. More breweries are poised to come on board in the near future.
“I don’t want to inspire someone by assisting them,” says Christopher. “I want to inspire them to go out and inspire someone else. So it becomes a snowball effect. That’s when the really good stuff starts to happen. When people start paying it forward.”
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