The Hippo


Apr 18, 2019








Cara and Dave Bronson Courtesy photo.

Money for nothing?
Manchester family featured in new CBS show

By Kelly Sennott

Manchester Iraq war hero and amputee Dave Bronson and his family — wife Cara Bronson and children, Gavin and Teagan Bronson — are featured in a six-episode CBS reality show called The Briefcase, scheduled to premiere Wednesday, May 27, at 8 p.m.

At the show’s center are American families who’ve been dealt less-than-favorable hands and are in need of money because of issues like unemployment, debt or disabilities. In each episode, two families are presented with a more favorable offer: a briefcase filled with a large sum of cash. Then, they have a choice to make: they can keep it all, keep some and give the rest away, or give it all to another family just as deserving. A week before their episode aired, the Bronsons talked with the Hippo via phone about their experience.
Tell me a little about yourselves.
DB: We rent an apartment in Manchester, and we’re building a house in Auburn. I grew up in New Hampshire, and when I joined the military, I moved all over. I came back to New Hampshire in 2011.
CB: I work at Elliot Hospital. I grew up in Mass. When I couldn’t get a job down there, I started looking up north and found a nursing job at Elliot Hospital, where I’ve been ever since.
How were you introduced to the show? 
DB: One of my really good friends knew a casting director looking for a family with certain dynamics. I didn’t have a clue what it was about. We thought it was going to be a documentary about a military family. … While filming, life happened as it normally would. Then the executive producer came into our apartment one day and presented us a briefcase with $101,000 and 72 hours to make a decision.
So you had no idea until that moment what the show was about?
CB: We were told they wanted to film our everyday life. We were kind of in the dark from the get-go, and had no idea what this was about. And then there’s this briefcase with $101,000 in it. I was in shock. I don’t think I said anything at all.
Were you suspicious?
CB: We knew there had to be a twist to this. 
DB: Our initial thought was, “Wow, we’ve got $100,000! What an amazing way to alleviate debt and start fresh.” We’re building a VA-adapted home. It has to meet a lot of requirements for amputees, and our first thought was, this will be a great way to start debt-free, to start a new life. … And then we started to learn about this other family.
When you learned the show’s premise, did you still want to participate?
CB: Never at any point did we say we didn’t want to be part of this show. We were definitely excited to be along for the ride and see how it played out. … As we went along, more details were explained to us. ... It was exciting and nerve-racking, but definitely something fun to be a part of. 
When did filming start?
CB: We started at the beginning of March. … They just filmed how our everyday life is. 
DB: We live in a third-floor apartment building with no elevator. We have a 2-year-old, and now we have a newborn baby as of May 6. They filmed all the things we have to do on a daily basis to make it work. … There was also a lot of filming throughout the week in many different Manchester spots.
How did your kids like the filming process?
CB: Gavin loved all the crew, who were amazing. When they first told us they were coming out, I was picturing five or six people. There were 40. Our son loved the attention, and he loved playing with all the cameras. The crew loved him, played with him, and they really became family with us within just a week’s time. We were spending every waking hour with them, and they kind of lived the roller coaster of emotions with us.
Are you nervous for the airing? 
DB: A little bit. ... We didn’t know really how big it was going to be or what it was actually going to be. Once we found it was going to be on CBS primetime, we knew it was a big deal. I’ve done small news articles and news stories on amputee vets, but nothing to this magnitude. ... I guess you worry about how your family is going to be perceived.
Anything else you want to say to readers?
CB: I mean, I was eight months pregnant at the time. I was running around eight months pregnant with a 2-year-old. Definitely, it’s all real, what you’re going to see on TV. There was no faking anything. It was tough at times, but I would definitely do it again. It was fun. We learned a lot about our family, helping others and looking out for other people.
DB: It really opened our eyes to the struggles and problems your neighbors might be facing that you don’t even know about. … I think people will be shocked at the messages in the episodes and to see how it plays out.
As seen in the May 28, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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