Survivor Spotlight: Jodi Byers

Kindergarten teacher, brain injury survivor, and newly crowned Mrs. Michigan America 2018, Jodi Byers is using her pageant platform to help BIAMI raise awareness of brain injury and tell her dramatic story to the public and survivor community.

While working at a church camp following her sophomore year at Hope College, Jodi fell and hit her head twice, once on a counter during the fall and again on the concrete floor. Her initial reaction was that it was just a concussion, nothing of any real concern. She immediately returned to working at the camp and flew home a week later.

The extent of Jodi’s injury did not start to manifest until after she returned home and her condition then worsened to the point where she had to take a semester off from college. Jodi was unable to read beyond five minutes without her vision blurring and had difficulties with pattern recognition. Additionally, she had short-term memory loss, issues with perception, and daily migraines. Any single one of these ensured that collegiate study was impossible until she had recovered, and Jodi struggled with them all at once.

As a normally positive and upbeat young woman, Jodi’s physical, cognitive, and psychological challenges made that outlook almost impossible to maintain. “I had a month of falling into deep depression because I didn't think life would ever become the same. I have been blessed with an amazingly supportive family and if it weren't for them, I don't know what I would have done!” Her condition led to a reexamination of her life and goals, and during this period she realized she wanted nothing more than to help others become the best possible versions of themselves. It is what she felt she was meant to do. Through this realization, she found the strength and resolve to work toward recovery.

Six months later, Jodi was back in college. Since then, she graduated from Hope College, was married, competed and won the title of Mrs. Michigan America 2018, and will soon be competing for the national title of Mrs. America. Since her recovery, Jodi has been dedicated to raising awareness for brain injury. Even before competing for Mrs. Michigan America, she started an online concussion group through Facebook called “Maintain the Brain.” Best of all, today she no longer experiences lingering effects of her brain injury. When asked, Jodi recognizes how unique her recovery was. “I am blessed to have no reoccurring symptoms, but many survivors still do. Therefore, I urge people to be patient, be supportive, and offer grace to fellow brain injury survivors.”

Urge Your Legislator to Vote No on HB 5013

Last Thursday, HB 5013 passed out of committee and now sits on the House floor for a vote. This bill will likely be brought up on the floor for a house vote this week, with a second reading on Wednesday and vote on Thursday. Mayor Duggan, a number prominent Detroit Business men and corporations, and members from the Michigan Chamber are working hard to advance this bill. Additionally, HB 5013 will increase the amount of Medicaid spending by $80 million in ten years.

IT IS TIME TO TAKE ACTION AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.

We strongly encourage you to join us at the Capitol and oppose this legislation, which would:

  • Authorize unprecedented dollar cap limitations on no-fault benefits
  • Give insurance companies greater control over patients’ medical care
  • Greatly increases the power of the insurance companies while taking legal rights away from patients
  • Only offers temporary premium rate reductions, if any at all

A strong showing of folks opposing this bill outside the house floor both days is important. Anticipate two long afternoons especially on Thursday. Session on Thursday starts at noon.

We will meet, receive a short update, gather materials and have lunch across the street from the House Office Building at the Central Methodist Church basement, 215 North Capitol from 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM on Wednesday and from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM on Thursday. Salad, pizza, and beverages will be provided on Wednesday at about 11:45 AM. Lunch on Thursday will be ready about 11:00 AM prior to the start of a noon House session.

We need your help if we are going to make sure this bill is defeated. If able, we strongly encourage you to join us. If you are unable, there are still ways you can help and make your voice heard.

  1. Email your legislators. We’ve provided a pre-written form letter, but feel free to make changes or write your own letter and send it. If you write your own, be sure they know your situation and what you stand to lose if this passes.
  2. Call your legislators. We’ve provided talking points, but feel free to make changes or include your own. Be sure they know your situation and what you stand to lose if this passes.
  3. Use social media to share your position and stories regarding your health care situation and be sure to use the hashtags #ProtectNoFault and #NO5013. Tell your story and let people know that the care being received would be impossible under the Duggan-Leonard plan.

Help us protect defend the system of care critical to so many Michiganders who have been, and unfortunately will be, auto accident survivors and their families.

Pam Hallman to Meet with the U.S. Congressional Brain Injury Task Force

On October 25, our own Pam Hallman has been chosen to represent domestic violence and brain injury survivors across the country in front of the U.S. Congressional Brain Injury Task Force at a briefing, titled “The Silent Epidemic in America – Brain Injury and Domestic Violence,” in Washington D.C.

The briefing will explore the correlation between domestic violence and brain injury and discuss the unique challenges in addressing brain injury in domestic violence cases. Pam will be joined by Dr. Javier Cárdenas, Director of the Barrow concussion and Brain Injury Center; Dr. Valerie Maholmes, Chief of the Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; and Anne McDonnell, the Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Virginia, as speakers at the briefing, with BIAA President/CEO Susan Connors moderating.

As both a brain injury and domestic violence survivor, and with years of experience speaking on the topic, Pam will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on the task force and all present for her testimony. We applaud Pam for her bravery and for sharing her story in the hopes that it brings about meaningful changes in the lives of current and future domestic violence survivors.

Capitol Day, Annual Meeting, and Spring Fling

On Wednesday, May 17th, we will be gathering in the Mackinaw Room for Capitol Day 2017. It’s a chance for brain injury survivors, their friends and family members, caregivers, and professionals to meet their state legislators in Lansing face to face and discuss the issues that are most pressing to them. To read more about Capitol Day, past successes, or to register, please visit our Capitol Day page.

The Annual Meeting and Spring Fling are also on the horizon. They will be held at the Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth on May 6th. The Survivors Committee is planning an evening of fun with karaoke and pizza. Not only is this a chance to have some fun with fellow survivors, but also meet with some of the BIAMI board members and celebrate the work and achievements our volunteers. The volunteer award winners will be chosen this week; further nominations will not be accepted. For more information, please view our Annual Meeting and Spring Fling flyer.

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