KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — As Western Michigan University’s hockey team continues to make a championship push this season, one of their star players is also playing for someone near to his heart through the sport he loves.
Brandon Bussi is one of WMU’s brightest stars to ever wear the brown and gold in front of the net. A key piece of his equipment is doing more than just sporting those colors.
Brandon Bussi’s helmet, designed by Vice Design’s Allen Schneider, incorporates puzzle pieces, an autism awareness symbol recognized by the Autism Society.
His inspiration is his 20-year-old only brother, Dylan Bussi, who was diagnosed with nonverbal autism at a young age and currently resides at a supported living facility in the Bronx.
“I thought that this was a spot where I can mostly create my vision and show something personal to me,” Brandon Bussi said. “Growing up … it put me in a spot to be a little bit more mature and take care of him and build a very unique relationship that most people wouldn’t have with their brother or sisters.”
It’s one he hopes sparks conversations to further understand the condition and break the stigma associated with it — like the conversations he had with some of his own teammates.
“Some people just need to learn more about it. When (my teammates) heard the meaning of it all, they were in full support of me. I have unbelievable teammates. We’re a very close group that all supports each other no matter what in highs and lows — that’s the only way you’re going to succeed,” he said.
Brandon Bussi’s dream is to be a New York Ranger, but his goal is to be ultimately live closer to his brother, one who is always on his mind.
“My brother and my family are the world to me,” he said. “I do everything I’m doing now — whether it’s playing hockey professionally later on, or getting my degree and working as an accountant, or just making any sort of money — I do it all for my family. I want to make their life better. I want to make my brother’s life better.”
Brandon Bussi will continue to wear puzzle piece-themed masks until his competitive ice hockey playing career is over. As for the one he currently wears for the Broncos, he is planning to hopefully take it home as a family memento, especially for his brother.