Patients, Families Join Wedding Party

When Dr. Taryn Bragg married lawyer Josh Bowland, the bride wore white; the groom wore a tux, and Bucky Badger came in his signature red and white.

The ceremony took place in the American Family Children’s Hospital, where Bragg is a pediatric neurosurgeon, and the guests included many of the children and families she has helped. Bowland met Circuit Court Judge William Hanrahan, who performed the ceremony, when he was sitting in on a court case.

“Work is a huge part of who I am,” Bragg said, explaining the couple’s decision to be married in the hospital. “The kids are a huge part of what makes my life happy. … We had so much fun. I can’t see it any other way.”

The celebration continues with Bragg and Bowland’s decision to ask guests to give to the Children’s Hospital in lieu of sending wedding gifts.

Family, patients and Bucky Badger joined the celebration when Dr. Taryn Bragg marries Josh Bowland at American Family Children’s Hospital.

Although she and Bowland both came from modest means, she said they have enough. “We’d rather (the gifts) benefit the kids who can use more,” she said. “We really wanted to give back to the community, hoping it would inspire more donations.” The plan worked, she said, adding a man they had never met but who would turn out to be their future neighbor was among those who made a gift on the couple’s behalf.

The wedding gifts will support patient care needs in the face of an increasing demand for services for children from a widening geographic area. “The Children’s Hospital expects to see 50 percent more patients in 2015 than it did the day it opened in 2007,” said Jeff Poltawky, vice president of American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH). “We need to expand to ensure every child can receive needed medical care. We are grateful that Taryn and Josh have joined our effort.”

Bragg knew she wanted to be a doctor by the time she was 7. Crocheting helped convince her to become a surgeon. “It gives you some degree of coordination with your hands and attention to detail,” she said. She finished her residency at Loyola University Medical Center near Chicago, completed a year’s pediatric neurosurgery fellowship at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, and joined the American Family Children’s Hospital in late 2010.

Bragg loves working with children. “Most of the time, you have the opportunity to really impact their lives,” she said.

“Kids have such a spark,” she added. They don’t see disabilities; they see conditions they just live with. Their goal is to get over whatever they have and go back and do things. One advantage of working at AFCH is that physicians can follow children into adulthood, which is not possible at some children’s hospitals, Bragg said.

Bragg and Bowland met online while in Salt Lake. Seven months later they were engaged, and they moved to Madison a month after that. A chance conversation at a football game gave Bragg the idea of getting married at the hospital.

“We’d always wanted my patients to come,” Bragg said. “Why not share some happiness with them too?”