Kathy has 30 years of fond memories from her involvement with the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI). Although she struggled with her brain injury early in her life, Kathy has become a shining example of facing a brain injury with determination and a sense of humor.
Kathy was 15 when she was injured in a dune buggy accident. Even though she was hospitalized for seven months and had to relearn everyday tasks, she was expected to fully recover from her accident. Her supportive family played a major role in her recovery. With their help, she graduated from high school and then went on to college. Her parents encouraged her to go to a community college part time and work her way up to full time. When she accomplished that, they allowed her to move on to Aquinas College. The college helped tremendously with the accommodations she needed. She also started volunteering for the BIAMI (known as MHIA at that time) by selling golf raffle tickets. She eventually continued on to Michigan State University where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work.
“I realize that college may not be best choice for everyone with a brain injury, but my college years were some of the best years of my life,” says Kathy.
Kathy got the resources she needed during college. With her determination, and her family behind her, she was able to get her degree. Kathy had a wake-up call when she came home and couldn’t find a job, despite her schooling. Her mom had been making connections through BIAMI’s Novi support group and realized that Kathy needed further resources due to her brain injury. They scheduled testing that confirmed although she had accomplished so much, she still was experiencing negative effects from her brain injury.
With the help of attorney Wayne Miller, she started a four-year battle with her insurance company who did not want to pay auto no-fault. Because Kathy had graduated from high school and college, they argued that she had no lasting ill effects from her injury. Thankfully, Kathy and her attorney won a settlement against the insurance company. Her settlement has allowed her to get the resources she needs.
For the last 10 years, Kathy has shared her journey with her injury as a standup comedian. She has also brought awareness about brain injury to elementary schools with the message to treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself – reminding students that we are all more alike than we are different. She shares with them the difficulties it took to overcome her injury, always with a sense of humor.
“I’ve always loved making people laugh,” explains Kathy. “What better way to connect with people about brain injuries than to make them laugh?”
Today Kathy is still very involved with the BIAMI. She has taken part in the Bridge Walk, Capital Day, and Spring Fling just to name a few. She is also very involved in the recreational activities provided by the Macomb Chapter. Kathy is grateful for Rehab Pathways and the help they provide so that she can live independently. She also loves being employed at Cassell & Associates.
“Every brain injury is different and just a fraction of an inch can make such a difference in your outcome,” says Kathy. “The kind of support, resources and activities that BIAMI provides make a world of difference for survivors like me.”