It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.
The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.
On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.
The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.
If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.
Catherine (Cat) Brubaker (survivor)
Catherine Brubaker is a two-time traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor. Using her walker, Catherine, who was determined to take back her life, walked into Sun Cyclery in Phoenix, Arizona, in September 2013 and purchased a recumbent trike.
On June 29, 2014, she joined a stroke survivor and began what was to become the journey of her lifetime. Catherine and her new riding partner rode 5390 miles across America on their recumbent trikes. The trip took 5 1/2 months. It started in Anacortes, Washington, and concluded in Key West, Florida. Catherine pedaled over several high-altitude mountain passes and persevered through snow, rain, mud, and every imaginable obstacle. Through this experience, Catherine has been able to regain her freedom and confidence, find purpose, and rebuild her body as part of her recovery from undignified tragic circumstances.
Catherine actively reaches out to inspire brain injury survivors to help them reclaim their lives through recumbent trikes and art. She is scheduled for several speaking engagements across the nation in 2015.
Catherine has partnered with “Spokes Fighting Strokes” (SFS) in her grassroots effort to encourage a national conversation about brain injury, regardless of its cause. Together, SFS and Catherine will teach as many brain injury survivors as possible to ride recumbent trikes to aid in their recovery. Success stories can be found on Catherine’s website (www.irideforhope.org).
As part of her recovery, Catherine was enrolled in a special program called “Artists for Trauma,” which has brought her great joy. Catherine has recently been named the Brain Injury Ambassador for this foundation. She is honored to be a part of this effort, and she looks forward to contributing her art and collaborating with artists and trauma survivors. Her works of art and photography can be found at http://www.irideforhope.org. All proceeds go toward her foundation.
Catherine is also in the process of launching a foundation called, “Hope for Trauma.” Its mission is to encourage a national conversation about brain injury, regardless of its cause. Her foundation will also be concerned with brain injury’s impact on survivors and their families and with the invisible challenges they face.
Catherine’s road to her newfound freedom has been long and filled with obstacles. After being assaulted in 2010, which caused Catherine’s initial TBI, she had to relearn how to walk, talk, and eat on her own. This involved many months and multiple physicians (often several in a day). In 2012, Catherine’s heart began to fail, and she was on the brink of death. She received a pacemaker and a new chance at life. Luck was not on her side, though, and she was in a collision with another vehicle shortly thereafter. Catherine had to once again relearn how to walk, talk, and do basic daily tasks.
Catherine can no longer drive or live by herself. She lost her career and her ability to be independent. Cognitively Catherine was set back to early grade school. Her primary relationship became strained, as her partner became her caregiver. Eventually the strain became too much for her partner. Faced with these losses, Catherine hit rock bottom. She tried to take her own life in March 2014. Shortly afterward, Catherine met her current riding partner. It was in that meeting that she learned of the ride across the US. That spark ignited her competitive spirit and gave her a new outlook on life.
Prior to her TBIs, Catherine was an accomplished professional. She went to Pacific Union College in Napa, California, and graduated with a B.S. degree in Psychology. She worked with military veterans and offered them financial, investment, and insurance services. She led a team of 12-15 associates. During her career, Catherine decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Leadership, which she obtained in 2007. She accomplished this with a 4.0 GPA and while working full time! She was also an avid skier on black diamond runs, and she enjoyed running two miles daily, rain or shine.
To learn more about Catherine, check out these sites.
Survivors SPEAK OUT! Catherine (Cat) Brubaker
Catherine (Cat) Brubaker: Triking Across America
“Another Fork in the Road” Brain Injury Radio Network – “Triking Across America Diagonally” with Catherine (Cat) Brubaker
On the Air – Brain Injury Radio: Interview – Catherine Brubaker – Triking Across America
Catherine Brubaker’s Photo Journal (Part 1) Washington to Florida
“Another Fork in the Road” Brain Injury Radio Network – Catherine (Cat) Brubaker’s and Dan Zimmerman’s Reflections – Triking Across America
(Clip art compliments of Bing.)
(Photos compliments of contributor.)