Today, the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) pays tribute to an extraordinary person who touched many lives in the brain injury community throughout the nation.
Ralph William Shields played key roles in brain injury advocacy. As a brain injury survivor himself, he was an advocate for disability rights at the local, state and national levels, held key leadership positions in various brain injury organizations, was a valued team member on a number of critical projects and trainings and high lauded for many other efforts.
Shields passed away earlier this year at his home in New York.
BEST Founder and Chief Visionary Officer, Penny Condoll, shares her thoughts on Shields’ work and legacy.
I met Ralph in 2008 at a national TBI conference in Washington, D.C. I was new to disability advocacy, had been a newly elected chair of the Washington State Governor’s TBI Council and was just starting the vision for BEST. During breaks from the conference, Ralph told me stories. I was so encouraged to hear his pride as he talked of his accomplishments and how he was influencing the “old school” thought about brain injury. I’ll never forget how I left that encounter.
I was changed.
I also gained a role model, a peer and a TBI brother.
Months later, I realized that Ralph had helped Dr. Gordon, his wife and the team at Mt. Sinai create the program, “Moving On.” This workbook has become a standard way we talk about brain injury in Washington State. It’s taught and supported in college settings and support groups. It’s one of the core tools we use in our Project PEER (TBI coaching and mentoring) program at BEST. It’s a workbook that has changed my life and my TBI family’s lives. The pages demonstrated how Ralph and the team had the belief that we could control our futures with the right support.
So thank you, Ralph, from your TBI family in Washington State, for your lifetime of service and tenacity. I hope you knew the significance of your impact.
For more information on Shields’ work and life and to leave your own memorial tribute online, click here.