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Trace's Story

Trace: Courageous, the Battler, Brave, Warlike, and Fierce.  

Trace was born in Michigan in 1996 and two years later, moved to Noblesville, IN where he enjoyed a healthy, vibrant childhood attending school, playing sports, and participating in a variety of activities with his parents Dan and Amy and two younger sisters Shaelen and Maris. He graduated in 2015 from Guerin Catholic High School and then began his college career at Wabash in Crawfordsville, IN.


In his early years, Trace was a healthy and impressive athlete, student, and artist, but in 2015 he began suffering from an undiagnosed, degenerative brain disease. The first symptoms of his condition were noticed around age 18 when the family saw a change in his speech, fine motor skills, and athleticism. His words became rapid, rushed, mumbled and very hard to understand. His handwriting became very small and messy. However, the biggest change of all was in his athletic performance where previously, he had always shined. He began losing agility, speed, and strength both on and off the field.


During his freshman year at Wabash College (2015/2016), it 

became apparent that something very serious was happening and his family decided to seek medical attention. Additional symptoms began to unfold, including trouble with balance, coordination, and swallowing which required that Trace leave college after Thanksgiving 2016 of his sophomore year. Thanks to help from his professors, he completed the semester final exams from home in December 2016.


From the Winter of 2017, his condition remained undiagnosed and progressed so that Trace required 24/7 care at home. The degenerative neurological disease resulted in brain atrophy, loss of most motor control functions, and speech. Trace relied on a feeding tube for hydration and nutrition needs and as of Fall 2018 Trace became confined to his bed. Goals then moved from seeking further treatment and cure at all costs for Trace to providing constant physical & emotional comfort, companionship, love and prayers. As you can imagine it was an extremely difficult and heartbreaking past several years for Trace and his family.  Before his condition, and his passing on Oct 23,2019, Trace was a very outgoing, social, faithful, and thoughtful young man. He loved singing, writing poetry, sketching/painting, volunteering, cooking, social media, his Sigma Chi brothers, participating in High School and College football and track/field, and especially family Holiday gatherings.  If life had gone as planned, he would have graduated from Wabash in May 2019, with a major in Visual Arts and a double minor in History & Religion. Trace was a fighter and his family knows that God gives his hardest battles to his strongest warriors. His name was chosen in part due to its meaning.


Trace: Courageous, the Battler, Brave, Warlike, and Fierce.  


There is no doubt Trace lived up to his name. The Trace Bulger Foundation wholeheartedly thanks you for your past, current, and ongoing support.


We would like to express our deep appreciation for the kind acts of sympathy following Trace’s recent passing (Oct 23, 2019). The support and compassion extended to us during the difficult years of Trace’s illness, and over the past few weeks, have been a great comfort. You have touched our hearts forever. Your generosity will always be remembered, Thank you!

Dan, Amy, Shaelen, & Maris 

"Twenty-one years ago, we chose the name Trace because of its Gaelic and English meanings: courageous, the battler, brave, warlike, and fierce."

- Amy Bulger


Read journal entries of Trace’s story on CaringBridge


The Trace Bulger Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit organization. All donations/payments made to the foundation are tax deductible. For the foundation's EIN number, please contact us here.