We feel fortunate to have Kara Swanson as our keynote speaker for the Annual Conference. Ms. Swanson of Center Line, Michigan, suffered traumatic brain injury in January of 1996 when a minivan running a red light struck her car. The accident caused few visible injuries, but left Kara with a "mild" brain injury that effectively ended life as she had known it.
Prior to her accident, Kara's life had been active and full. After high school, she studied social work at the University of Michigan and was a member of the women's basketball team. She also coached high school basketball and softball, motivating others with her inspirational talks. After college she worked as a catering manager at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Kara has spent the months and years since the accident learning how to cope with her "new" life and make the most of it. Though her life has changed radically, Kara is still much the same person she used to be. Her yearning to share with others ¾ and her sense of humor ¾ remain intact.
Although Kara can no longer work in a traditional setting, she uses her motivation and education to help others who have suffered brain injuries. In an effort to reach out, she wrote a book in which she shares her experiences about the daily obstacles faced by closed head injury survivors and their families. The book, I'll Carry the Fork!, also provides useful information about caregiving, and dealing with physicians and lawyers.
Kara also brings her experience to medical professionals and community groups. She has been keynote speaker for the annual meetings of the Brain Injury Associations of Maryland and Georgia, and has addressed numerous support groups and TBI-related organizations in her native Michigan.
While she still struggles daily with impairments, Kara lives on her own and cares for her father, who also has suffered cognitive damage due to multiple strokes.
Kara has learned to face the challenges of dealing with a disability by reaching out to others through her inspirational writing, and by actively celebrating everyday life. In May of 2000 the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University) honored her for "the outstanding accomplishments of an individual who has been living with a disability for less than five years." The award was appropriately called the Rising Star Award for Excellence in Achievement.
Please plan to join us in welcoming Ms. Swanson on October 6th in Wilsonville. The Association wishes to express its appreciation to Care Medical for its generous assistance in making Ms. Swanson's appearance possible. We also appreciate the assistance provided by Kara's publisher, Rising Star Press.
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