Have a safe and relaxing holiday weekend, BEST friends!
Making connections, sharing information and learning new things are the BEST.
BEST had the opportunity to do just that recently. Organization representatives participated in an innovative informational and networking event hosted by TBINetwork and Eastern Washington University (EWU) in Cheney, Washington. The TBI Panel Conference, Diagnosing, Treating, and Thriving with Traumatic Brain Injuries held on May 18 on the EWU campus was comprised of a series of conversations and activities to educate students, professionals, and other relevant populations about vital topics concerning brain injury and brain injury awareness.
For BEST Executive Director, Gloria Kraegel, the symposium was a moving and inspirational experience.
“I was impressed with the panels and the information that was shared,” says Kraegel. “Many of the attendees that I met were individuals with brain injury and family members. I was moved by their stories and their determination to embrace opportunities as they challenged the many issues they faced.”
While panel members addressed questions and provided information and support, participants also discussed how they could be service to other survivors and their families.
“Students from the social work program attended some of the panels I moderated and asked how they might be better at helping families and what information did they not get initially, but would want others to have,” shares Kraegel.
Besides Kraegel, a few Brain Energy Support Team BESTies, had the opportunity to present and participate.
“I was proud of our BESTies Mia, Nichole, and Paul. Each of them shared their experiences and insights that were encouraging and insightful.”
Kraegel continues, “Nichole was on a panel that focused on education and employment. The discussion started well and grew to a room resonating with questions and sharing of resources. People couldn’t write or connect with one another fast enough.”
Kraegel has nothing but praise for the event and is grateful for the connections and conversations.
“It really was a great symposium, filled with resources and relevant discussion. Kudos to TBISN and EWU!”
BEST’s dynamic duo of BEST Executive Director, Gloria Kraegel and BEST Founder, Penny Condoll, are horsing around a little (literally).
This BEST Superhero team of two hit the road recently to attend the TBI Panel Symposium along with BEST friends, TBINetwork and Brain Injury Radio in Spokane, Washington. With the title, Diagnosing, Treating, and Thriving with Traumatic Brain Injuries, this panel intends to educate students, professionals, and relevant populations about vital topics concerning brain injury and disability, for the betterment of professional and public awareness.
So, what about the horsing around part?
Well, along the way, Kraegel and Condoll got to take in a site that now can be crossed off Kraegel’s bucket list.
Any guesses where they stopped?
Read more below to find the answer!
Cyclist, brain injury survivor and Washington State resident, Kathi Sturgeon is helping to support brain injury survivors one ride at a time.
Sturgeon has founded an organization called Riding for Hope Alliance to do just that. The mission and goal of the organization is straightforward: Riding for Hope Alliance raises resources and awareness for brain injury survivors through bicycling. Sturgeon, an avid cyclist, wanted to channel her passion for the sport to help support fellow brain injury survivors. She came up with the idea last year to complete three different local rides to benefit three different nonprofit organizations that support brain injury survivors. Contributors donated directly to the designated organizations in honor of the ride.
Sturgeon accomplished her goal in 2016 and is ready to take Riding for Hope Alliance to the next level. Currently, she has social media presence through Facebook and Twitter and has a website coming soon. She also hopes to expand the riding team to help spread awareness and provide support to a cause that she holds dear.
“It’s my desire for others to give all through 2017, once they become aware of the organizations that are supported through Ride for Hope Alliance. My long-term goal is to expand this idea and add more riders, even riders in multiple states, to help support the cause and bring awareness.”
Sturgeon is also grateful about returning to cycling after her own brain injury and continuing on her own personal journey forward.
She began riding in California in the early-2000’s and fell in love with the sport right away.
“Prior to my injury, it was just this joy when I rode, physically, mentally and emotionally. It had so many benefits,” says Sturgeon. “I was on a women’s cycling team and we built friendships while raising money for causes.”
“I just fell in love with cycling,” Sturgeon continues. “There were the challenges, too, like longer and longer rides. It was such a great accomplishment!”
However, it was on the bike, while training for a ride, that Sturgeon was hit by a drunk driver in 2008. She sustained a traumatic brain injury, along with other serious injuries. Despite her circumstances, she distinctly remembers feeling the need to get back on the bike when she was in rehabilitation after her accident.
“After my injuries, I remember being in rehab and I really wanted to get back on my bike. When I first started riding again, it was on a tandem bike with my therapist.”
Sturgeon continued to heal and build strength through tandem rides and eventually she being able to ride on her own again.
The big test came in 2012 when Sturgeon relocated from California to Washington State. She was invited to appear on a local television news broadcast to share her story and talk about the work she was doing on behalf of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). It was in that interview that she declared she would ride the Seattle to Portland (STP) bike race in 2013.
“It was after that interview that I realized that I just said on television that I would ride the STP!” laughs Sturgeon.
Sturgeon remained true to her word, and along with a couple of physical therapists serving as support systems and fellow riders, completed the STP in 2013.
After recalling the memories of the race, she smiles and stated that it was nothing short of incredible.
For Sturgeon, this is only the beginning of her mission.
“I want to speak for brain injury survivors,” says Sturgeon. “By focusing on good nonprofits that support survivors, I want to help raise money and awareness for survivors.”
Sturgeon’s next endeavor will be to ride in the Tour De Lopez on Lopez Island in Washington State on Saturday, April 29, 2017. Riding for Hope Alliance is looking to raise funds and bring awareness to the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST). To support Riding for Hope Alliance and BEST, please click HERE. Thank you for your support!
To learn more about Riding for Hope for Alliance, please visit the organization on Facebook.
BEST’s virtual presence in Second Life just got better.
BEST recently created the BEST PEER Center to offer in-world facilitator training, our acclaimed Moving On & Identity After TBI course, workshops, mindfulness retreats, and much more. We invite you to visit the BEST PEER Center at Etopia. A Landmark is available in our office at Etopia Plaza.
Etopia also offers entertainment and socialization opportunities, support groups, workshops on health, presentations from noted institutions such as the Mayo Clinic and Harvard University, opportunities for small business development, learning a new language, and even taking classes and finishing a degree.
Join us in Second Life and enjoy events, group discussions, share information, exchange tips & tricks, and create community. All are welcome and there is no cost to participate.
The annual Washington State Traumatic Brain Injury Conference will take place on Monday, April 10, 2017 and Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at the Seattle Airport Marriott Hotel located at 3201 South 176th Street, Seattle, Washington. Join fellow survivors, family members, caregivers, supporters and professionals and explore this year’s theme: Creating Happiness: Practical Applications for the TBI Survivor and Others in Their World. Workshops, guest presenters, special enrichment activities, exhibitors, resources and more will be on hand throughout the two day conference.
To learn more, (agenda, schedule of events and lodging options) please click here. To learn more about prices and register online, please click here. For those interested in applying for a conference scholarship, please click here to register online (note: scholarship applications are due by Friday, March 3, 2017).
Looking forward to seeing our fellow superheroes in Washington State in April!
I know I haven’t written as much about our travels as I thought I might, but oh what a year it’s been. The map looked something like this – Tacoma to Sequim via Longbranch and Shelton, Grays Harbor to Vancouver. We’ve been to Olympia, Seattle, Monroe and up to Birch Bay. Over the mountains through Wenatchee to Spokane and back to Seattle through Moses Lake, Ellensburg, Yakima, and my favorite stop; Cle Elum. Okay, so there isn’t a support group in Cle Elum, but there is a terrific meat shop.
We’ve been on the road visiting communities across WA, meeting with community partners, and sharing time and ideas with support groups throughout the State. What a terrific time we’ve had. As much as I’ve loved the time we’ve spent with friends across the state the landscapes, towns, and water have been equally wonderful to see and be a part of. I’m a NY transplant and the diversity in WA environments has fascinated, entertained, and at times, stunned me … often to Penny’s amusement.
Our heartfelt thanks to Barb, Craig, Maggie, Shonti, Carolyn, Emily, Bethany, Ashley, Janet N, Danny, Pirate Dan, Robin, Lou, Jeff, Josh V, Angela & Josh, Laura, Nancy, Nick, Kim, Diane, John R, John L, Karen S, Des, Michele, Joel, Mary, Janet M, Tim, Channa, Lianne, Janice, Jennifer S, Karen L, Jennifer M, Angie, David, Brandon, Jon, and everyone I’ve forgotten to mention here.
Here’s a glimpse of our travels …
That’s just a taste of what we’ve done and where we’ve been. If you have photos you’d like to share that we might include in a longer film please send them to kimt at brainenergysuportteam dot org. We’d love to include your superheroes in our stories.
And if you have stories we can share with our superheroes send them, too.