Granger business owner, family getting help from community after traumatic brain injury


A community is rallying around a Granger businessman suffering from a traumatic brain injury. About 10 days ago, Chris Gerard fainted, hitting his head on the ground outside Bare Hands Brewery. One of his employees found him in the parking lot and took him to the hospital. Now his friends, family and complete strangers are making sure he has a business to come back to when he's ready.

"For Chris, there's just something about making a good beer," said his older brother, Ryan Gerard.

Bare Hands is a place people visit to taste Chris's beer.

"I just like the fact that you can come here, sample all kinds of beer, everything's made on site," said customer Sean Shea.

It started 10 years ago when Chris's parents got him a home brew kit as a gift.

"Let's just say I've been a willing test dummy for quite a few years now," Ryan laughed.

Over the years, Ryan watched it all come together.

"When he started the business 2 1/2 years ago, he dove in head first," Ryan continued. "He started out on a very limited budget, my dad helped out a lot. They built the pub themselves."

Chris poured himself into the business and it grew into his family's primary source of income.

"It's everything now. He has a wife and three kids," Ryan said.

When he got hurt earlier this month, Chris's family and friends knew they had no choice but to keep the brewery going.

"After talking to the doctors that first day or two and realizing that Chris will be well again, we all agreed that he would want us to keep the business going. And not only that, for his family we need to keep the business going to keep the money coming in," Ryan added.

Doctors released Chris from the hospital Tuesday night. He's able to walk and, for the most part, looks normal - but his speech and cognitive skills have a long way to go, Ryan said.

He's scheduled to begin outpatient therapy Thursday and his medical bills are expected to be massive. Chris's three children have health insurance but he does not. He put all the money he made at the brewery back into the business since it opened in December 2011, Ryan said, adding his brother recently looked at several health insurance plans but hadn't decided on one when the accident happened.

An online fundraiser is trying to raise $60,000 by June 23 and already has more than $18,000 less than a week after being set up. There's also a golf outing and auction at Knollwood June 23.

Customers are putting money and checks in a huge bucket at the pub to help out. But it's not stopping there.

"He's been a great mentor, he's a great friend, a great guy," Jonathon Healy told WSBT.

Healy met Chris as a customer in the pub. The owner took Healy under his wing, showing him how to brew. So while Chris recovers, Healy is volunteering his time at the pub.

"For him giving me this chance to come in here and get any kind of knowledge that I can, this is just the smallest way I can pay him back," Healy said.

So he and others are doing just that - paying him back pint by pint until Chris can come back to the business he built with his bare hands.