Newsletter – September 2011



September 2011
September Newsletter

Celebrating Our Second Year With B.R.A.I.N.!

Another new beginning, a new semester,

a blessing waiting to be given!


Dear B.R.A.I.N. Family,


Each month I sit at the computer wondering what I can share with you that would give you  goosebumps, chills and a feeling of warmth in your heart. Each month, something new happens and sending out the newsletters at the end of the month allows us to provide you with a recap of the many wonderful events, stories from the heart and “gotcha moments” that make you realize that we are all in this together.

So, let me tell you what has been going on with ‘Friends of Brain Injury’ as we will celebrate our one year anniversary on October 4th as a group. We have changed our meeting day and time to accommodate my teaching schedule and office clients. I appreciate having the BRAIN Board and Founder accept this change and allow me to run the groups each week. It was a tough call to change what we have been doing on Thursday nights to now Tuesday afternoons; the first three Tuesdays of the month held 2:30-5:00pm at Cornerstone Church in Long Beach and the fourth Tuesday held 4:00-6:00pm at Farmers and Merchants Bank in Seal Beach. We are able to have our friends from Coastline Community College and others who attend school or therapy to join us at least one night a month.

We kicked off the season with a bang! We had 50 people at our first meeting after summer and it was like a school reunion or better yet, a family reunion. Everyone was hugging and wanting to find out what they did over the summer. We shared stories and celebrated new successes such as getting volunteer jobs, passing driving tests and even more, realizing that life goes on with or without your best friend or spouse. WE are all here together and we make up a family.

I have often told my husband that attending the F.B.I. group is the highlight of my week. Where else can you eat delicious treats, sing songs acapella, play a game of Uno and win prizes (giftcards from Jamba Juice and Starbucks)?! Where else can you celebrate being alive?!

Being alive. Now we are talking. We surround each other with the love of a family and we provide those that need us with resources to climb the hill or jump over the hurdle. WE do this for all those that cannot do it for themselves.


Maya Angelou once said something similiar about that:

When we stand up, we must know that we are standing up for everybody.

Each of us needs to know, in fact, that we are rainbows in the clouds.”

Join me and bring a friend on any given Tuesday night! You will end up with one gigantic smile on your face or better yet, a reason to get up in the morning and celebrate your significance!


With Warmest Thoughts,

Angela Mandas, MA CCC

Speech Language Pathologist

FBI Group Facilitator

LindsayVolunteer SueSurvivor ThomKnight
Survivor Spotlights
Stacey Kuriowa


I was an active, outgoing 35-year-old Registered Nurse. I awoke one morning

complaining that something did not feel right. My dad took me to the doctor

right away, but as the morning wore on it was evident that my condition was

deteriorating. When I was finally admitted to the hospital, my condition was so

unstable that I had to remain in ICU for several days. The neurologist delivered

the news to my parents that their daughter had suffered a severe stroke deep

in the middle of her brain and that, if she survived, she would have a very long

road back. I spent seven days in the hospital and 21 days in rehab before my

family was finally able to bring me home.

The medical professionals were not able to determine what caused my stroke,

but I did have two risk factors: smoking and oral contraceptives. I was unable

to walk or talk at all when I first came home. Through continued prayer and

rehab we were blessed to see day-to-day improvement in my condition. TodayI walk with a slight limp, have paralysis in my right arm, have memory loss, and

suffer from Broca’s aphasia, which is the most frustrating of all for me because

it means I can not say the words that I an thinking about. But, I am driving,

using the computer to play games, continuing speech therapy, and attending

B.R.A.I.N.’s weekly connection meeting, F.B.I., Friends of Brain Injury. I have also

taught myself to write with my left hand since the stroke. The first thing I was

able to print was “Stacey RN,” a signature that identifies a career I loved and excelled at and a title of which I continue to be very proud.

Don DiMarco
don and cathy
Don had retired for the second time in 1998. While I continued to work,he traveled, visited family and professional baseball parks around the country. He had been experiencing excruciating lower back pain for a number of years and received nerve block injections, which, over time, gave him minimal relief at best. Don opted to have a lower laminectomy at L5 and L6 region in 2006. Little did we know that during surgery plaque broke away from the carotid artery and landed itself in Don’s brain causing a massive stroke. This was August 2006.


Initially he couldn’t sit up, utter words, swallow or even follow the simpliest of commands. Those were very frightening days. We’ve always enjoyed and relied on each other for comfort and companionship, to see things through together, no matter how tough. This became even more important at this time in our marriage.


Four and a half years later we still pursue therapies 5 days a week. We have gotten back to traveling, most recently to Arizona for spring training with the Chicago Cubs. We make lemonade out of lemons and keep enjoying life as it comes at us. WE hope you do also.


Our friends, family and all our therapists will never know how much their kindness, support and encouragement has meant to both Don and myself. WE thank you most sincerely.

Ernie Sickenberger

On March 1st, 1998, I was involved in a snowboarding accident in Big Bear, CA. I suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and was helicoptered to Loma Linda Hospital. I was in a coma for 45 days. After 8.5 years of intense therapy in San Pedro and at USC, I was well enough to return to USC’s Marshall School of Business.


Upon returning to USC’s prestigious Marshall School of Business, I immediately changed by major from Marketing to Entrepreneurial Studies. I was then accepted into the Lloyd Grief Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. I took one class per semester and on May 15th I successfully graduated with a BS!


This business concept I  developed at  USC’s prestigious Marshall School of Business, was to develop a venture I would like to call Survival Rehabilitation: where the TBI/Stroke victim works one-on-one with a personal Trainer to gain muscular strength and move them closer to their next advance in function. By gaining a set of predetermined goals obtained from their Doctor of Physical Therapy the patient is always moving forward.  This Venture would be working alongside Physical Therapists.


If you would like more information about the personal training or to contact me in general, email me at




CarlArtTim Leslie KristaSarah
Ralphs Community Contributions Program!


It’s that time again!!
1. All members who are currently enrolled in the Ralphs Community Contribution Program will remain active until August 31, 2011, at which time you will have to re-register.


2. Participants will be required to register or re-register for the new term online or by using the scanbar letter at the register starting September 1, 2011.


3. If you received a scanbar letter last year, it is still good and can be used this year.


4. Even if you registered as recently as June or July 2011, you will be required to register again, on or after September 1, 2011.


5. This notice does not apply to participants of the Food 4 Less/Foods Co Community Rewards program.


Click here to sign up and designate B.R.A.I.N. as the beneficiary. Then, just use your Ralphs Rewards card at checkout when you shop.


For further information on the Ralphs Challenge and it’s contribution to B.R.A.I.N., click here to visit our site!
Thank you for your support!
Marcos Kathy BarbHug
F.B.I. Takes A Trip Down Route 66




Our first meeting at the F&M Bank Community Room in Seal Beach, CA was terrific! The theater style seating was comfortable and it was the perfect place to relax and hear the marvelous interview with Dan Rice. Angela Mandas, our facilitator, game player, information gatherer and skill builder interviewed Dan and it was an inspiring evening. Dan told his story about how sitting at a red light one Saturday morning several years ago changed his entire life. His Hollywood career immediately was altered after the accident. His journey has been difficult and often confusing, but his faith in God’s leading took him through.  His wife, Jessica and infant son, David were with us and we enjoyed their entire family. His entrepreneurial spirit and skills assisted them in opening up the unique booth on the Santa Monica Pier where they sell U.S. made items and the best Route 66 T-shirt in America.  Dan’s compelling and inspiring book, End of the Trail, chronicles his extraordinary journey with brain injury.  He has traveled and been interviewed all over the country and from his words he said, “I’ve never had a better interview than that.”  Thanks to Angela and Dan, we all were given a gift as we listened and recalled how our own journeys with brain injury have challenged us.



Angela Mandas, Sue Rueb, Dan’s wife Jessica and son David, & Dan Rice


Click here to visit Dan’s Route 66 website for more information & merchandise.

Want to buy Dan’s amazing book, End of the Trail? Click here!

Enter ‘friendsofDan‘ for FREE shipping!


Thomas Sandi VolunteerGirl
Message From Our Founder
It was a privilege to be able to speak and represent B.R.A.I.N. in the Psychology Department at Azusa Pacific University this past month.  Dr. Robert Vande Steeg was the instructor. Dr. Vande Steeg is in private practice with the Vista Group as well as the Pathos Christian Counseling Center and a host of other involvements that reach out to the community besides the university.   I was happy to see the first several minutes of the class used for deep breathing exercises.  It reminded me of our own times practicing the breathing procedures with Stephanie Davis from CSULB.  The group of Seniors in the Behavioral Psychology class were interested, moved and motivated to hear about B.R.A.I.N.  I hope that we see some volunteers come on board with us from Azusa.  I think the university classroom is a great place to spread awareness about brain injury.  How can someone study human behavior without information about how the brain can be injured and its impact on behavior?  I thank Dr. Vande Steeg for asking me to participate in his classroom at Azusa.
This month I was also asked to introduce Dr. David Rubenstein at the  Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at UC Irvine. Dr. Rubenstein’s physical therapy using breathing and exercises called  Brain-Body Calibration was most interesting and engaging.  We at B.R.A.I.N. are always open to new methods of treating brain injury and Dr. Rubenstein’s work through research and therapy is well worth studying and experiencing.  Besides his private practice, he volunteers at White Memorial Medical Center.  Thanks Dr. Rubenstein for allowing me to collaborate with you.


The new B.R.A.I.N. Awareness Booklet is soon to go to print and will be out by October 20th.  The 30 page booklet is filled with pictures and stories of our B.R.A.I.N. friends and contacts and we look forward to offering this book to corporations, organizations and business owners who are interested in investing in our Brain Center Dream.


B.R.A.I.N. is on the move!
Sue Rueb
Sue Photo (Flowers)

5267 Warner Ave., #306

Huntington Beach, CA 92649

(714) 625-7225 

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B.R.A.I.N. | 5267 Warner Ave, #306 | Huntington Beach | CA | 92649