For Billy Brimblecom music has been an essential piece of his existence. It has become a melody played on a continuous loop -- giving him comfort during personal storms, opening doors that seemed perilous, and providing him with an irreplaceable tool that has helped him to live out his wildest dreams.
Billy Brimblecom describes himself as an Enneagram Number Seven, a personality type that exudes an open-minded enthusiasm. Often creative, multi-talented, and extroverted, Number Sevens attack life with an exuberance that thrives on adventure and relationships. At the core of his character is his love of music. Brimblecom has spent a large part of his life perfecting his craft as a drummer and wanted nothing more than to build his life around that passion.
In 1999 he was involved in a car accident on a snow-packed highway. He remembers waking up to commotion and cold air and his feet pinned against the door of his small truck. It would take the Jaws of Life to remove him. Miraculously, he survived the wreck with only cuts, bruises, and a compression fracture on his vertebrae. It would be several months before he would begin to be plagued by a pain in his left ankle so intense it would keep him up at night. At first the pain was identified as residual nerve damage, and Brimblecom’s visits to the doctor became commonplace. It was not until 2005 following an ultrasound that a true diagnosis was made -- Ewing’s Sarcoma. Accompanying this diagnosis was the realization that the doctors had to remove the cancer and everything it touched, or in reality, lose the leg and save the life.
At this time Brimblecom was an active musician with a brand new original rock band named Blackpool Lights. It was an exciting time, and the band’s creative energy was in full force. The promise of touring the world was on the horizon. Blackpool Lights had played its first show, and a week later they found out that Brimblecom had cancer. Immediately, the tone changed from hopeful to terrified. Once he learned the treatment plan, he compared it to getting a prison sentence. His first reaction was, “What am I going to do to get through this?” He recognized that he had to remain optimistic and have resilience marching forward through the fire, but he also wanted to get through it as quickly as possible. He knew he was dealing with 9-12 months of chemotherapy, one week on and two weeks off. He knew he would endure intense surgery on his leg which would lead to amputation. He knew that he would be sidelined from the band, but he also knew he would find a way through it. Following that crucial doctor’s visit, Brimblecom remembers getting in the car with his mother and telling her, “You know I’m not going to die, right? The rest? We will figure it out.”
Figuring it out would become an understatement. Brimblecom remained steadfast in his musical passion. He continued to play the drums after his surgery and following his first prosthesis which came in October of 2005. By spring of 2006 he was back on stage and touring with his band. Along the way he met Allison, the woman he would eventually marry. In true optimist’s form, life’s tune had begun to move from melancholy to joyful, and in 2009 the couple moved to Nashville so that Brimblecom could tap into other musical opportunities. Here, he was able to link up with other musicians, perform with bands, and tour. The young couple also started their family.
In February of 2013, during an appointment with his prosthetist, his life would change once again in the form of a request. He was asked if he would talk to a new patient who was experiencing a sense of loss that comes after an amputation. He thanked God that he was able to speak that language to him and to let him know that it was going to get better. He knew then he wanted to make this his job. Brimblecom was enthusiastic about the idea of being the bridge between amputees and patients, but he was hoping for something that would keep him connected to people and not behind a desk. As if his steps were truly ordered, Steps of Faith fell from the sky and into his lap.
As defined by the website, Steps of Faith is a public charity dedicated to providing prosthetic care, hope, and comfort to amputees needing financial support. They help both the uninsured and underinsured amputees by getting them the prosthetic limbs, both arms and legs, that they need. They restore mobility and restore possibilities. It is Brimblecom’s mission not to turn anyone away, and as the executive director, the foundation has helped 200 people since its inception. Today, Steps of Faith operates in the Kansas City area and hopes to help someone in a new city each month.
Last November Steps of Faith hosted its second annual star-studded fundraising event, Thundergong. This community affair is the brainchild of Brimblecom and long-time friend Jason Sudeikis and is a mix of comedic bits, magic, dancing, and, of course, music. This year’s totals have surpassed $300,000. Brimblecom is in awe of the generosity. It is further testimony that music does more than provide a soundtrack. It can transform suffering into something wonderful.
“It is a dream and such a tremendous gift,” Brimblecom says, “a very humbling thing. Steps of Faith and now our Thundergong event are the culmination of all that I’ve been through.”
To donate and learn more about Steps of Faith visit: