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 12 years since our accident, and today Olivia is in her first year of high school. She has had 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.
BIAV Board Member