Friday, May 10, 2013

What if, suddenly, everything changed?

You're out on a training ride, feeling strong - the bike is an extension of your legs, and you're smashing your record time on a favourite loop. Out of nowhere, a car turns in front of you..

You're trail running on a gorgeous afternoon, enjoying the lovely sunshine. You're powering your way up a technical climb, and a rock shifts under your foot..

You're up long before the sun on a crisp winter morning, heading to the pool. You step out on your driveway and slip on a patch of ice..

BOOM. Darkness. Nothingness.

When you awake, your whole world has changed.

A blow to your head has resulted in an acquired brain injury. What you once took for granted - your ability to work, to train, even to carry on a conversation or read a book - now seems hopelessly out of reach. You face a daily life of impairments to your vision and balance, disordered sleep, and even epileptic seizures.

Sound far-fetched? This is the reality for my friend Jan, a fellow triathlete and Slowtwitch member who suffered a brain injury as a result of a collision with an automobile while out on a training ride in September of 2011. His story is told here, and is something I recommend every athlete read.

Fortunately, there are organizations that provide assistance to people like Jan as they strive to recover and adapt to their new capabilities and limitations. The Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington is one such centre, but as with all charitable organizations, the scope of their assistance is limited by funding for resources.

In order to give back to the Association that has provided him with valuable assistance, Jan has involved himself in staging a charity race benefiting the BIAWW called "Heels & Wheels". Taking place on June 2nd, 2013, there will be a 1k walk/wheelchair event as well as a 5k foot race. The proceeds will help the BIAWW provide health care, rehabilitation, work/school re-entry programs, community services and acquired brain injury advocacy. They use music therapy and glass craft classes to encourage brain injury survivors to express themselves, provide education to caregivers, assist with legal advice, and encourage helmet use through the Lidz on Kidz initiative. You can learn more about how the Association benefits people in coping with acquired brain injury in their own words here.

Register, volunteer or donate here.

I've registered to run the 5k, and Tanker will be volunteering at the event. Not only will I be able to support a friend and a worthy cause, I have the honour of pacing another friend through his first race ever while his wife and two young sons participate in the 1k walk! When we take to the trail at Bingemans that morning, I will pause for a moment to give thanks for the ability to run, to share in the experience with excellent companions, and to possibly help in some small way with a fellow athlete's recovery.

I beseech you to join me in my endeavour to raise funds for the Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington. You can sponsor my run by clicking this link and selecting my name from the drop-down list, register to run, walk or wheel through this link, or show your support by volunteering to help with the race here. Together we can help make broken lives a little more whole!

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