Did you know Giving Tuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back? Since 2012, Giving Tuesday has been recognized as the largest fundraising day of the year, with $1 billion donated to nonprofits around the world.
With so many deserving nonprofits, how do you decide where your contributions should go? While BIAV may not cure cancer or save kittens, we do provide critical advocacy, education, information, referrals, and resources to persons with brain injury, their family members and caregivers, and professionals. For the 28,000 Virginians who sustain a brain injury each year (in addition to their family members and communities who are also impacted) BIAV’s work provides hope, help, and healing... But, don’t take our word for it, take Kelly’s:
November 27, 2001 started out as a ‘normal' day. After school, my oldest daughter, Hannah had her first Nutcracker rehearsal. On the way there, my youngest daughter, Olivia asked to listen to a CD. The girls were singing along…and that is all I remember.
I can describe our accident only through witness testimony: On a heavily traveled divided highway, we approached a traffic light and slowed to a stop. A car came from behind us; hit two other cars before hitting us and pushed us until we hit the guardrail. The next thing I remember is hearing Hannah, yelling, “Mommy, Mommy wake up!” and an EMT asking me if there was anyone sitting in the third row of my minivan. Olivia had been sitting directly behind me in her car seat. I instantly knew something was wrong with her.
We were taken to the hospital in separate ambulances. Immediately after arriving, the doctors decided Olivia would have to be transferred to a pediatric trauma unit. The EMTs asked if I would like to see Olivia before she was transferred. Olivia had a fractured skull and a severe Traumatic Brain Injury. We had no idea what all this meant. That was the moment when I realized how fragile life is.
Olivia would spend weeks in the hospital before regaining consciousness. Once she did, she was transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation center for intensive therapies. Though we were told Olivia would likely need months of inpatient therapy, my little girl persevered and was discharged after only two weeks.
When I was struggling to get all the support and therapies Olivia would need to continue her recovery, I was lucky to come across the Brain Injury Association of Virginia (BIAV). I was so impressed by Anne McDonnell, the Executive Director of the BIAV, that I approached her to tell her my story and seek her advice. In the years to follow, the BIAV would continue to be a valued resource that I could rely on for information, guidance and support. Through their educational events and resources, I am able to share all I’ve learned with other brain injury survivors so they, too, can get the much needed help they deserve.
It has been 19 years since our accident, and today Olivia is on the other side of hours of therapies, tutoring, and counseling. A weaker person may have given up, but not my little girl. If it were not for her strength and the support of the BIAV, I don’t know that my daughter would be in the place she is today.
On December 3, BIAV is raising funds and awareness to support Virginians with brain injury, caregivers, and professionals, just like Kelly and her daughter Olivia. We believe every person who has sustained a brain injury should have access to critical resources to help with their recovery, and every caregiver and professional should feel supported in helping others.
You can help us provide these resources to the brain injury community so no one goes through this process alone. Become a Giving Tuesday Ambassador by downloading our toolkit and use social media, texting, and emails to spread the word about brain injury and encourage your friends and family to give back.