This past holiday weekend, UCF students have been sharing what they are thankful for all over social media. The holidays tend to evoke positive emotions, but some have more to be thankful than others, such as sophomore Brandon Cononley.

When going around the dinner table saying what you’re thankful for, “my health” tends to be a common answer – but it’s usually healthy people saying this answer. Although Brandon is now healthy, he went through a lot to get to where he is today.


Last fall, Conoley was confronted and attacked one night by a group of people in the 4th floor staircase of University House, just across the street from campus. Although the amount of people that attacked him were uncertain, he believes there were four other people there.

Conoley was unconscious when his best friend, Johnny Liptak, found him later that night in the 3rd floor staircase of University House.

“It’s definitely a moment one can never forget, seeing their best friend covered in blood at the bottom of a stairwell,” Liptak said. “I’m just glad everything turned out okay in the end.”

He woke up the next morning with two black eyes, a swollen face, missing teeth and two broken wrists. “I just remember being in an extreme amount of pain,” Conoley said.

After his mom told him to go to the hospital, doctors found a type of bleeding in his brain that required surgery.

“The amount of blood in my brain was so extreme they didn’t expect me to be conscious with the amount of bleeding that was occurring,” Conoley said.

The surgery was so serious that surgeons told him to say his goodbyes. After waking up from the surgery, Conoley stayed in hospital for a week and was treated with three facial fractures, two broken wrists and bleeding in the brain. He had to drop out of his classes and head back home for therapy. He forgot how to talk and he couldn’t move his legs.

Through therapy, Conoley is now able to do everything he could do before, except play contact sports. Although he’s missing a piece of the right side of his brain, he still feels undamaged.

“That’s the miracle about this whole thing,” Conoley said. “Not only did I survive, but also I’m basically untouched. I have a scare and that’s it. It’s unexplainable.”