BY: JENN BOWLER
As we gear up for BIST’s Heroes 5K Run, Walk or Roll on October 1st, we’re launching our 2nd Annual Heroes of Brain Injury Series, highlighting some ordinary folk with extraordinary ABI superpowers who come out to our 5K each year.
Read about our fastest heroes on Race Day – Garvin Moses and Kathleen Lawrence – below. But just so we’re clear, we know everyone who comes out to our 5K is a hero – no matter how fast they run, walk or roll!
Fastest Female: Kathleen Lawrence
RUN TIME: 21 min 33 sec
Tell us a bit about your work:
I work as an Occupational Therapist (OT) with Function Ability Rehabilitation Services, as an OT for approximately seven years now and with my role at Function Ability for over two years. With Function Ability, I work with people who have sustained a variety of traumatic injuries including brain injury; most of the clients I work with have been involved in motor vehicle collisions. I work with my clients to help support their recovery process and enable them to return to their activities of normal life and re-engage in their meaningful occupations. I love what I do and it has been a very fulfilling career thus far.
Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?
I participate in the BIST 5K because I love running and because of my work with people living with brain injury. This race is helping further community participation, raise money and increase brain injury awareness. To me, running is all about setting my own personal goals and working to achieve them, the BIST 5K allows opportunity to meet my own goals.
I started running in 2011 as I had always enjoyed doing physical activity and I found it to be an easy activity to integrate into my weekly schedule and to be a great form of stress management and effective to support my own work / life balance. In order to help motivate myself to commit to running, I registered and ran my first half-marathon in the fall of 2011. I definitely experienced a ‘runner’s high’ after that race and since then, I’ve completed many half marathons and races from 5 to 30 km. I ran my first marathon in 2015 and have since completed four full marathons including qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon this past spring! I enjoy running many races over each year but I always look forward to running the BIST 5K – this will be my third year participating in the event.
What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?
To me, heroes are people who overcome obstacles and challenges to achieve something great. I think the true heroes of brain injury are the survivors, they are the ones working hard to overcome brain injury barriers to engage in their daily activities. In my role as an OT, I try to listen to my client’s concerns and challenges while reflecting and utilizing their strengths to help them progress towards their goals. Being a hero of brain injury could be providing support, having a positive attitude, engaging in reflective listening or simply just being there at the right time. There are brain injury heroes all around us, survivors, friends, family, caregivers, health care and legal professionals, and other rehabilitation team members. We all work together to fight brain injury.
What is your favourite part about race day?
I enjoy the whole atmosphere of the race. The BIST 5km always has a special atmosphere about it where people come together to achieve a common goal, not only about participating in the event but creating brain injury awareness. I like the social atmosphere of the race and being able to spend time with other people to learn about their personal victories related to the event. There are always so many great success stories that occur at the BIST 5K; from just being able to attend the race, to running a first 5 km, to setting a personal best time – it is all about celebrating personal accomplishment. I also enjoy the feeling of crossing the finish line!
Fastest Male: Garvin Moses
RUN TIME: 19 min 40 sec
- Tell us a bit about your work:
The Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario (NRIO) was my introduction to ABI and this field. I applied here shortly after graduating from the University of Windsor. I started off working as a rehabilitation therapist and slowly worked my way through the organization. I have been with NRIO for almost nine years and I currently manage two of their residential programs in Mississauga and south Etobicoke. Although at times it can be difficult managing two programs I have a great team of staff and therapists around me. I also really love the diversity of the two sites. The Mississauga program deals with more slow to recovery and non-ambulatory individuals, the south Etobicoke residence known as the SLA (supported living apartments) deals with higher functioning individuals and allows them to engage in rehabilitation in a much more independent environment. Working at the two different sites gives me an opportunity to work with two very different sub-groups of individuals as well as work with them in different points of their recovery.
- Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?
Put quite simply, I run the BIST 5K every year because I enjoy it. I have participated in the BIST run since it first started in 2011* and really enjoy the crowd that it attracts. I remember a few years where it was pouring rain and passing people on the road wearing ponchos and a huge smile on their face. I think BIST is about community and bringing people together and this is definitely an opportunity to do just that
- What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?
I would never really categorize myself as a hero. As I mentioned earlier, I’m only able to do what I do because of the great people I work with. More times than not, I’m telling my clients that they are the ones who motivate me whether it’s being able to say a family member’s name for the first time, ambulating stairs, or finishing high school when they thought they would never be able to. In some cases, it could be finishing that 5K race they have been training for all year long.
- What is your favourite part about Race Day?
I really do like the sense of community that is involved in this race. It allows survivors and service providers to come together in a non-threatening environment. From a selfish perspective, I also enjoy hanging out by the finish line to see the smiles and looks of fulfillment as people cross the finish line.
Jenn Bowler is a social worker in the Trauma Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and is a member of the BIST 5K Run, Walk, & Roll Committee.