“Your brain controls everything about you,” said Dave Johnson, executive director of the Kamloops Brain Injury Association.
That, he added, is why brain injuries can be so devastating.
“It’s not just your physical stuff and your emotional stuff, but it’s also who you are,” Johnson said.
“Imagine your significant other, you love them partly because they were so bouncy and cheery, and now they went to work in the morning, they had a car crash on the way home, they’re physically OK, but they’re a completely different person.
“What’s that do to your marriage?”
That can be a challenge.
Johnson said the association helps survivors understand what happened to them and helps families provide extra support.
There are a number of programs and activities run out of the association’s office downtown at 408 Victoria St.
It starts with Brain Injury 101, an introductory session for both survivors and non-survivors alike.
Another program is called Rebuilding and it is focused more on the survivors and how they can better understand and adapt to their injuries.
The association also has drop-in and discussion groups, a stained glass workshop and an art group.
And, Johnson said, the money from the KTW Christmas Cheer Fund will help keep all of those programs running.
“People want charities to be doing the work of the charity, of helping people with brain injuries, for example,” he said. “They don’t want us running around putting on fancy dinners to raise money. But the reality is we need that money.”
Cheer Fund money allows the association to focus on helping survivors rather than raising funds.
In addition to helping survivors cope with their injuries, the association is involved in preventive outreach, speaking at schools and businesses.
“We do a Grade 4 program,” Johnson said.
“We hook up with the science curriculum and we say, ‘This is how your brain works. This is why you want to protect it. It’s kind of important.’
There is also talk about wearing helmets, wearing safety gear and learning to play the game well.
“You want to go play football?” he said. “OK,, fine, but learn to tackle properly so you take the guy down, because you want to win, right? But also so you keep your head safe.”
The association also has a program directed at teenagers.
“Teenagers are noted for not listening, so we show them what happens if you’re in a car accident and if you’re texting and driving,” Johnson said.
While Cheer Fund donations will help, the Kamloops Brain Injury Association also relies on other donors and fundraising events, such as the Gur Singh Memorial Golf Tournament and dinners.
“There’s a lot of great charities in Kamloops. I love them,” Johnson said.
“It is a competitive environment, though, to raise funds. And this is one of the reasons that Christmas Cheer funds are so important to us.”
The Kamloops Brain Injury Association is downtown at 408 Victoria St. It can be reached by phone at 250-372-1799 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HERE'S HOW TO HELP A GREAT CAUSE
Charities being supported this year include the Y Women’s Emergency Shelter, Out of the Cold shelter, The Mustard Seed New Life Community, Kamloops Brain Injury Association and Boys and Girls Club’s Falcon Program.
To donate, go online to kamloopsthisweek.com/cheer or visit the KTW office, 1365B Dalhousie Dr. in Southgate. Office hours are Mondays to Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
All donations collected will be held by the United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo for distribution in January. Online receipts will be issued immediately by the United Way; cash donations will generate receipts in January.
Thank you, Kamloops This Week readers!
During the KTW Christmas Cheer campaign, we will recognize donors, along with a running tally:
THANK YOU TO THE DONORS:
• St. John Vianney Friday Afternoon Bridge Club: $100
• In Memory of Peter Botham: $100
• Valerie Brown: $100
• ND McGowan: $100
• KTW Social Fund: $321
• Kamloops This Week: $2,070
• Anonymous: $100
• Anna Evenrude: $50
• John and Val Kemp: $100
• Spencer and Janet Bryson: $200
• The Posse: $100
• Irene Anderson: $20
• Lynne Totten: $100
• Marg Clements: $100
• Anonymous: $500
• Darren, Sharlene & Kyle McIlwain: $158
• Tracey Mourre: $20
• Rick & Judy Collinge: $100
• Anonymous: $25
• Tom & Sharon Moore: $100
• Amy Regen: $100
TOTAL TO DATE: $4,464