Come walk with me!

This year’s walk is looking to be more than awesome, it’ll be…awesometastic?  I don’t know the right term, but whatever it’ll be, it’ll be that.   The walk is 39 days away, and holy cow, it’s going to be awesome!   If you’ve been to one before, you know how from how awesome it was that it’s going to be better!  Please click-to-register, collect some pledges, and be awesome!

Check out the cool dude in this story, even though he suffered a brain injury, he will #NeverStop and will #ConquerABI

Of all of the evidence presented in court, it’s a photo of a punctured van windshield that is among the most compelling for Robert Wein. It’s a circle, right in the middle. It’s where his friend’s helmet and head left a sizable hole after she was struck from behind.

Wein was hit seconds after that. He, too, was wearing a helmet.

On July 19, 2009, five cyclists were on their Sunday morning ride along March Road in Kanata when a mini van struck them from behind, leaving debris strewn across the busy road. Shoes. Bike parts. Sunglasses. Helmets left behind by paramedics who treated the injured.

They became known as the Kanata 5, and a city full of Ottawa supporters followed their recoveries carefully, raising money and awareness about bicycle safety.

The van driver fled the scene and was found later. In October 2011, Sommit Luangpakham was convicted of 10 charges of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. He received a sentence of two years less a day. He said he wouldn’t have left them there had he known he’d hit them. He went home and parked his car with a large hole in the windshield. And then, he went to bed.

Wein still struggles with the massive head trauma he suffered that day. Yet he has dedicated his life to helping others with brain injuries.

He was the fourth person struck and had been a serious athlete. Shortly before that weekend he had completed his fifth triathlon.

He was given a 50 per cent chance of survival. Regaining memory and speech almost verged on the impossible. Walking and cycling were not even worth discussing early on.

He did an interview with me through email because it’s easier for him than speaking.

“When we were hit, I lost it, all of it. I couldn’t walk properly, couldn’t swim, couldn’t run, couldn’t bike, couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t. I felt that the list had no end. I felt useless and in the way. My greatest disappointment was me, on the whole, right before I started the walk, because I hated who I saw in the mirror,” he wrote.

But, then something happened. He found a purpose: The walk. His awareness walk. And he fully participates.

Almost nine years after the crash, Wein walks, talks and rides. It’s not easy. He has challenges, and he overcomes them. He traded in a road bike for a recumbent bike. He uses a walker. His speech is slower. His memory is perforated, has holes. He doesn’t remember the crash. In fact, he actually doesn’t recall anything from the month before to about six months after. Some of his other memories appear only if prompted by others.

“It’s like a diskette, where all of the information is in there, but without a directory you can’t find it,” he says. “I’m not able to self-summon it. If someone else mentions something about it, it’s instantly available. I don’t know why, but I think that it’s related to the problem.”

Unable to hold a job due to the injury, Wein has dedicated his entire life to brain injury awareness. And, perhaps not surprisingly, finding a purpose gave him hope. He hosts his annual walk to raise awareness for brain injury charities.

“The walk’s premise is to feel good about yourself,” Wein says. “That no matter how you need to, getting to where you want to is what matters. The walk is to help people understand more about brain injury … we walk in a circle, there’s a clear start, but because as with a brain injury there’s a beginning, there’s no end.”

And now he considers himself fortunate, that he can dedicate 100 per cent of his time to fundraising and awareness. He says that the training before the crash taught him that when you decide to “go,” you go all the way, and then some.

Info: Acquired Brain Injury

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Facts:

Did you know that TBI (traumatic brain injury) is more common than breast cancer, spinal cord injury, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis, COMBINED?  In the province of Ontario, where there are two million people diagnosed with a neurological condition; 500,000 people have an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) as a result of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and multiple Traumatic Brain Injuries (mTBI).  In a company of 10 people that would be 4 people affected, or 10 people in a company of 40.

Promo-sign for the walk

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I’m taking the walk seriously, and have begun to build signs for it.The letters on the sign aren’t store-bought, I cut them out myself, by hand, every one of them.  It took some time, but it’s worth it.

Today’s walk

 Where I walked

Today I went for a 2k walk, but holy crap it’s hot.  Here are my stats that were logged on the Garmin thingy, but it doesn’t show the temperature.

Speaking with Kessie

Kessie Hi, my name is Kessie. I was out tubing with my kids when the worst of the worst happened.   I suffered my brain injury then, I’d share what happened, but I don’t remember anything about it. I’ll use the terms of “before” and “after” because of what my injury did. The “before” me brought my son James to his karate classes, and all three kids to gymnastics. I also played with them, a lot, outside and entertained friends at home, often. The “after” me isn’t able to do what the “before” me did, and it annoys me, quite a bit.  The damage to my brain affects the left-side of my body, which means that I’m less physically able to do what I used to do.
I’ve been working hard on my walking.  I’m able to walk around the house, being able to use a walker so that I’m able to rise from the wheelchair, and walk.   I’ve got my eyes on being able to play with my kids, more than simply watching them, to be able to volunteer (somewhere), and do more independently.  I’m looking into a tricycle, which will enable me to ride with others, and feel liberated. I feel that it’s important to be surrounded by helpful, and supportive people, who help to bring out the best. I feel that being positive is important, and to harness your inside-energy to help yourself do more.

It’s not that bad, on the whole

This year’s walk made me realize that while my brain injury may be bad, what it’s enabled me to do is incredible.  Many people are connected to old friends through social media, some of their co-workers, and family, but they don’t see them in -person often, or at all.   My injury has given me a valid basis to organize an event, and invite everyone that I know to it.   Many people can say that they do that also, but how many people can say that 184 people said yes, paid $30 to come, came to walked for 2 hours, and celebrated being a part of their memory?  I was overwhelmed with the response, because while I missed my job (a lot), I was but a number there.  With the walk, I matter, and they’re listening, everybody.

Walk Wrap-Up

When I started the walk, four years ago, I was in a slump.  I felt useless, missed my job, and hated the fact that the accident happened.  I’m not really sure why I’d thought of a walk, but that’s what it was.  I had huge visions for it, it was global right off the mark, but I paid for everything, and it raised $936.  I wasn’t one to give up, which was contrary to how I’d felt of myself, so it happened the next year.  However, I knew that I couldn’t do it alone, I asked for help, and it was better.  This year, the fourth walk, was such a phenomenal success that I found myself not missing my work as I used to, because my new job has given to me a significantly higher degree of job-satisfaction.  The walk happened in Ottawa and Belleville, the totals aren’t final yet, but the walk had over 300 people hearing the message, and over $30,000 raised for Pathways,