Mighty Mike

The heroes of brain injury are assembling for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll on October 1st!

As we prepare for Race Day, BIST has selected a special superhero squad of amazing heroes of brain injury we will feature on a weekly basis until the big day.

Meet Mighty Mike – #7 in our Heroes of Brain Injury Series.

DONATE TO THE HEROES OF BRAIN INJURY HERE

Be sure to collect all seven heroes!

A father of two, Mike lives in a long term care facility outside of Toronto. Every year, he raises money for a wheelchair accessible taxi so he can get to the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll, and walk over the finish line.

Because of where he lives, Mike can’t get to BIST’s programs and services, but he says he looks forward to Race Day as a highlight of his year. Find out why staff and residents at Mike’s long term care facility call him an inspiration. 

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Can you talk about how you acquired your brain injury?

I was driving home from work at 2:30 in the morning and I blacked out and hit a tree head on. I drove into a shallow ditch. According to the doctor, I hit the windshield which caused a brain bleed.

The right side of the brain was damaged. That’s what they told me what happened.

I was put into a coma for several months. After they showed me the CT scan of my brain and it was submerged in blood.

Prior to the accident, I didn’t know [I had an aneurysm]. The aneurysm moved to the part of the brain responsible for eye sight, which caused me to black out. That was 10 years ago this October 15th.

I still have the aneurysm, and I have a shunt in my brain.

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Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?

My therapist Phil told me about the race. He asked me if I would go with him, get fresh air and do the run, he told me all about BIST.

I do it for my cause and possibly to inspire people to achieve [their own] goals.

I look forward to the Run. I walk over the finish line with no assistance or with very little assistance. I can’t walk or run [yet] but I’m getting closer and closer ever day. I walk every day [in therapy].

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Mike walking across the finish line in 2015.

What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?

I’m a survivor of a traumatic brain injury which affected my personal life as well as work life. I’ve had intense therapy to achieve the goals I’ve achieved so far. I still have goals and would like to inspire others to set goals and achieve them.

[My goal] is to be able to walk home and be home with my wife and kids like a father and a husband should be.

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A card from Mike’s son displayed in his room.

I think it would be a better life experience than sitting here all the time. But I understand the injury and the situation.

My wife is my anchor. She’s my soul mate and my best friend.

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Join the Heroes of Brain Injury Squad – sign up for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll TODAY!

Fast Frank

The heroes of brain injury are assembling for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll on October 1st!

As we prepare for Race Day, BIST has selected a special superhero squad of amazing heroes of brain injury we will feature on a weekly basis until the big day.

Meet Fast Frank – #6 in our Heroes of Brain Injury Series.

Be sure to collect all seven heroes!

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Can you talk about how you acquired your brain injury?

I was at work and I fell 20 feet. I have no memory of it, my subconscious won’t allow me [to remember]. I spent three weeks in a coma. I was a four on the Glasgow Coma Scale. A score of four means you’ve got a foot and a half in the grave. Part of my injury is that I never understood the extent of my injury.

How long have you been involved with BIST?

 I did HIAT/BIAT first [BIST’s predecessor].

Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?

We need money. We don’t get government support.

What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?

I guess it means that we keep plugging away every single day, so we get better. Mistakes are proof that you’re trying. There’s nothing wrong with failure, it’s a teaching tool.

It’s the most difficult thing to learn how to do everything all over again.

What are you looking forward to on Race Day?

It’s everyone helping everyone else. It’s the whole brain injury community coming together.

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Fast Frank is totally a BIST hero!

You can find out more about Frank’s story HERE and read about his experience running the Pan Am Relay HERE.

Join the Heroes of Brain Injury Squad – sign up for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll TODAY!

 

 

 

 

Charismatic Colleen

The heroes of brain injury are assembling for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll on October 1st!

As we prepare for Race Day, BIST has selected a special superhero squad of amazing heroes of brain injury.

Meet Charismatic Colleen – #5 in our Heroes of Brain Injury Series.

Be sure to collect all seven heroes!

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How long have you been working in brain injury?

I started in health care 27 years ago and I have been working with people who have sustained a brain injury for the past 21 years. I have been working for NRIO (Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario) for over 20 years and it has been a long and fulfilling career.

Describe your work with NRIO

I am a teacher by profession and I also have a marketing background. I returned to school 4 years ago and completed the Case Management certification through McMaster and the Life Care Planning certification through the University of Florida. I joined [NRIO] to do marketing and helped promote NRIO over the years and giving back to the community. For the past 16 years I have been the Executive Director, and took on more of a management role, but marketing is my first love, education, meeting clients, their families and the referral sources. I am the first person called and thereafter I delegate to my competent and professional managers and staff.  I have an invested interest in all of our clients, their happiness/success and proud to say I know something about every client.

Effective September 1st, NRIO was acquired by Bayshore Therapy & Rehab and I am thrilled about this acquisition and the continuum of care NRIO and Bayshore Therapy & Rehab can provide. My title has changed to Director, NRIO.

What has been your role at BIST?

I was the founding chair of BIST in 2004, and BIST holds a very very special place in my heart.

I feel I am more valuable sitting on sub-committees and contributing to projects and seeing the end results. I hold the Board members, staff and volunteers in the highest regard and their energy, time and commitment is invaluable.  I have been on the awareness committee since 2000, was on the communications committee and continue supporting the volunteer committee.

My most recent project was helping BIST find a new Executive Director.

Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?

I’ve been doing the run since it began in 2011. I feel very committed to BIST and the work that the board and the staff do and the invaluable contributions from the members. I will do what I can to support BIST, its success and our ongoing commitment to the members and the brain injury community.

BIST’s mantra from the beginning is doing it well, whether it is a small or big task. We have not taken on large goals that we can’t accomplish. I am extremely proud of BIST’s accomplishments and achievements to date.

What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?

To me being a hero of brain injury demonstrates that I’ve been selected because of the people I serve. I am not the hero. The main heroes are the clients  who have sustained the brain injury, the ones who work so hard every day to get to where they are and demonstrate those super powers to be able to get their lives back, and to provide sustainable outcomes and recoveries. They are the true heroes and all of us involved in their lives are the conduits to help our clients reach their ultimate goals.

What is your favourite part about Race Day?

I love everything that [the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll] brings together – the clients, their families, friends and professionals – we are all one at the end of the day with the same goals – participate, have fun, make money for BIST and give back to the community.

Everybody is equal at these events, tries their best and no matter what it is they accomplish, or what they do and no matter what milestone, whether they’re wheeling a kilometre, or if they’re walking for 500 metres, or if they’re running one kilometre, doing the 5K everybody is equal and doing the best that they possibly can.

Charismatic Colleen has been a big part of BIST over the years! Read the tips she gave on training for the 5K, along with her NRIO team member Garvin, HERE and how she won BIST’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 2013, HERE.

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Join the Heroes of Brain Injury Squad – sign up for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll TODAY!

Remarkable Ryan

The heroes of brain injury are assembling for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll on October 1st!

As we prepare for Race Day, BIST has selected a special superhero squad of amazing heroes of brain injury we will feature on a weekly basis until the big day.

Meet Remarkable Ryan – #4 in our Heroes of Brain Injury Series.

Be sure to collect all seven heroes!

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How long have you been working in brain injury?

I have been working representing people with brain injury for over 10 years.

Describe your work.

As a personal injury lawyer, my job is to help people with brain injuries, caused by someone else’s negligence, recover the income that they have lost due to their brain injury and to ensure that they are compensated for their care costs.

Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?

I have been a big supporter of BIST for many years and I have been on the board of directors for the past four years. BIST is a fabulous organization that helps people in Toronto with brain injuries and their families by providing a variety of programs and services. The money raised at the BIST 5K goes a long way to providing those programs and services.

What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?

It means working every day to help people who have suffered brain injuries while at the same time educating the general public about brain injuries and the devastating impact they can have on people who have suffered one.

What is your favourite part about Race Day?

It is a very fun event and not a competitive race. Many people bring their families and pets and they have activities there for the children. It is always a great chance to touch base with all of the people who are involved with BIST in a variety of ways.

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Join the Heroes of Brain Injury Squad – sign up for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll TODAY!

Judy the Just

The heroes of brain injury are assembling for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll on October 1st!

As we prepare for Race Day, BIST has selected a special superhero squad of amazing heroes of brain injury we will feature on a weekly basis until the big day.

Meet Judy the Just, #3 in our Heroes of Brain Injury Series!

Be sure to collect all seven heroes!

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Describe your work:

When I first started, I worked on the front line, providing direct support to clients and families. I have also worked at a system level, planning and advocating for better services for people with brain injuries both at BIST and the Toronto ABI Network.

Now I am a Senior Manager at CHIRS working with the best team of community workers ever assembled.  This is the best job imaginable, I get to work with a group of people who are so dedicated to making a difference in the lives of people with a brain injury.

Day after day, I watch our team doing heroic (maybe super heroic) things to make life better for our clients – and sometimes they make sacrifices and take personal risk. That’s the very definition of a hero in my mind and I am extremely happy to be a small part of the work we do.  

Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?

Actually, I am proud to say that I was one of the founders of the BIST 5K Run, Walk & Roll.  I was on the board of directors at the time and we were looking for ways to raise funds for BIST. I was a newly converted runner so it seemed like the perfect fit. I recruited a small group of colleagues that I knew could make this happen and we launched the first run in 2011.

We didn’t really know what we were doing and were crossing our fingers for a break even result. We were thrilled when we contributed over $25,000 to BIST that first year. It is so rewarding to see this event grow year after year and I love the new Superhero theme.

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Judy the Just (with her sidekick dogs) and other members of the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll organizing committee in 2014

What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?

I am proud of the work I have done over the years, but it is nothing compared to the hard work that CHRIS’ clients and the members of BIST do every day. That’s why we do this work.  How can one not be inspired when you attend a BIST community meeting and hear the stories of recovery following catastrophic injuries, watch friendships emerge and see people put aside their own challenges or difficulties to support someone else, or speak to families about their seemingly unlimited capacity for support and caring.

I am just a side-kick and am happy to play that role in any way that I can.

What is your favourite part about Race Day?

When I see people crossing the finish line with a huge smile on their faces – and it’s not the first ones across the finish line that I look forward to seeing.

And I love how the community comes together –all with the same purpose: to make money for BIST and raise the profile of brain injury.

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Join the Heroes of Brain Injury Squad – sign up for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll TODAY!

 

Courageous Chris

The heroes of brain injury are assembling for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll on October 1st!

As we prepare for Race Day, BIST has selected a special superhero squad of amazing heroes of brain injury we will feature on a weekly basis until the big day.

Meet Courageous Chris, son of Awesome Anne, and #2 in our Heroes of Brain Injury Series.

Be sure to collect all six heroes!

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Can you talk about how you acquired your brain injury?

Chris acquired his brain injury during a bike race – his first race ever – in 2010. He had just landed his dream job as head chef at a luxury hotel in Toronto, and had a five-year-old son, Jesse, at home. He and his mom, Anne, describe what happened:

Anne: His bike broke in two pieces. Christopher was lying on the ground. They didn’t have paramedics [at the race]. .. He was posturing. His feet were connected to the petals. He was still on the ground when his friends cycled past him.

Chris: My feet were hooked on to the half piece. Could you just imagine someone lying there, the first piece broken off? I have the frame still. I put all the pieces of that on to my rain bike. It’s only 15.5 lbs. and my broken frame is in my room behind my TV so I can’t look at it every day. It used to be on my balcony and I’d go out and look at it every day.

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Courageous Chris and Awesome Anne

How long have you been involved with BIST?

 I started going to the movies [this spring] because it’s away from home and that gave me the opportunity to go on a bus and get rid of my anxiety. 

Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?

I run everyday, and running with people will help [my] anxiety. I run everyday by myself no problem. But with a group, I have problems with groups.

[I’m running] to challenge myself. This is how I was going through cooking school to become a chef. It’s all about challenging yourself to see how far you can take it.

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Chris with his son Jesse

What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?

I can accomplish. I can go forward.  Its all about going forward. It’s not slowing me down.

What are you looking forward to on Race Day?

I’m going to run as fast as I can and then [meet up with my mom] and walk the rest of it with [her].

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Join the Heroes of Brain Injury Squad – sign up for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll TODAY!

 

 

 

 

Awesome Anne

The heroes of brain injury are assembling for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll on October 1st!

As we prepare for Race Day, BIST has selected a special superhero squad of amazing heroes of brain injury we will feature on a weekly basis until the big day.

Meet Awesome Anne who is #1 in our Heroes of Brain Injury Series.

Be sure to collect all seven heroes!

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How long have you been involved with BIST?

I signed [my son] Chris up about a year ago, and we started coming with BIST to the movies in May.

Why do you participate in the BIST 5K?

Just to support BIST. I’m doing the AIDS Walk too. 

What does being a hero of brain injury mean to you?

I think that it’s important for all family members to support someone who has had something happen to them of a traumatic nature. It’s the same way we supported our [other] son when he came home and said he was HIV positive. So many of his friends, their parents kicked them out and didn’t want anything to do with them. 

But I also push Christopher to step out into the world and do things on his own. He knows that if he needs help I’m there, but I’m still going to push him to do the things that he would like me to do.

And I’m confident in his ability to even go out with [his son] Jesse and go places.

What are you looking forward to on the day of the 5K?

Just going out and having fun!

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Join the Heroes of Brain Injury Squad – sign up for the BIST 5K Run, Walk and Roll TODAY!