Survivor Highlight: Samantha Palumbo

By: Samantha and Diana (Mother) Palumbo


Survivor. Strong. Successful. Samantha. Same. 

Those are the words Samantha chose for this story to describe herself. I added the word “same.”  So much of our daughter is exactly the same as she has always been, yet so much has changed. She doesn’t feel like a different person to us though, it’s just her abilities that are different. Her ability to walk, talk and even remember are drastically different. But when she flexes her bicep, to indicate her strength, both physically and mentally, we know she is still our same Samantha – just living a life that’s different than it used to be. Samantha’s sweet spirit and self-confidence shines through the challenges she lives with as a result of the traumatic brain injury she suffered in a car accident in April 2005.

Stopped. Still. Sad. Struggle.

Those are my words to describe what if felt like when the world seemed to stop that fateful evening, but actually it was just our lives that stood still, temporarily, while our daughter struggled – at first just to survive, then to recover from her injuries, to today as she learns strategies that allow her to live the life she chooses, in spite of so many challenges, 

Strive. Self-confident. Sure. Sam. 

Samantha’s faith in God and herself is unchanged through it all. She was an accomplished teenager, winning the title of Miss California Jr. National Teenager in 2004, started her own charitable project at the age of 15, was a Scholar/Athlete on the Varsity Cheer Squad and J.V. Swim team. She is still an active, adventurous, hardworking young woman who understands the importance of being positive in order to stay strong. 

Sweet. Silly. Social. Social. Social. 

When I asked her what she liked about B.R.A.I.N. and F.B.I., she typed out on her AAC device, “being social.” The events there at B.R.A.I.N. allow Samantha to be herself, among a group of supportive, understanding people offering unconditional love and acceptance. To be part of a group again, just like before her accident when she was an active part of her high school; B.R.A.I.N. gives her the opportunity to be social and have fun with other people – the opportunity to be herself, and feel like her ole’ self again. It is an important part of shaping her new life, while celebrating who she is and helping her to grow into a woman she sees herself as today, not one her disabilities would define her to be. A remarkable teenager then. An amazing young woman now!

Staying Strong. Star. Samantha. 

Like before she faces challenges with a fierce determination a quiet resolve and always a grateful heart. Her future still promises many successes in life, despite her disabilities. In fact, her greatest accomplishments will likely come as a result of them. She is still our shining star!

Samantha and Diana