May 21, 2016 was B.R.A.I.N.’s seventh annual Think Tank event Each year, we shine a light on brain injury and the impact it has on so many. We usually have expert speakers to help us gain more awareness of brain injury, giving new cutting edge information about rehabilitation. This year, Think Tank took a new twist. In answer to our need for funds to give survivors the therapy that they seek, B.R.A.I.N. hosted a Gala dinner and program that highlighted several of our own survivors’ stories. A Beautiful Evening of Truth was exactly that. True Stories of our own B.R.A.I.N. survivors, a Person of the Year Award given to Dr. Bennet Omalu for his courageous stand for truth, and B.R.A.I.N.’s own newly formed Choir composed of survivors who are learning to communicate again since their injury all played a special part in making the evening such a grand success.
Because B.R.A.I.N. is a Non Profit Organization that does not accept governmental funds, we rely on private donations from survivors, local businesses, and caring individuals who want to be a part of this fine organization. The 2016 Think Tank Gala had 300 guests for a delicious dinner. Our own Life Coach, Ken Henry serenaded the gathering with one of his own songs with an inspirational message of hope. Three original oil paintings were available by silent auction throughout the dinner by Artist, James Gerrard, of Art for Cause Now.
Survivors, Philip Harmatiuk, Michael Ramsey, Steve Zaldivar, and Kamri Whitehead all told their true stories through video and personal interview. These four individuals were chosen because of the impact to their various communities after their injury.
Phil was a professional dirt bike racer when his accident occurred. His accident has helped to change some much needed procedures and rules to the sport. Michael’s Dad is a Cypress Police Commander in the Criminal Investigation Department Michael’s accident has propelled him into Medicine and he will be interning at B.R.A.I.N. this summer.
Steve was training to be a professional light weight boxer. Little did he know he would be called on to fight for his life after his injury. Many are inspired by Steve. There was hardly a dry eye in the ballroom after watching and listening to Speech Therapist, Angela Mandas do therapy with Kamri. She is a young Army Veteran who sustained a stroke en route to Korea. She is early in her rehabilitation and is coming back with determination.
The Choir provided the perfect backdrop to the generosity of the crowd. Board Member, Jerry Rueb asked all who were not survivors in the room to consider giving. Two songs sung by a group of people who have little speaking skill was moving to us all. B.R.A.I.N. Speech Therapist, Lynn Gallandt led the choir and all were filled with joy at their performance. All gave either financially or with their thoughts and prayers to B.R.A.I.N.
Then, Daniel Juare, husband of survivor, Cristina stepped out from the choir and led a few minutes of fun live auction. The auction items were simply cards called Life Lines and represented scholarship funding for those who can not afford the therapy they so desperately need. Over $14,000 came for those scholarships that will prove to be a true Life Line to those in need.
Former NFL 49er, George Visger, a survivor himself accepted Dr. Bennet Omalu’s Award for Person of the Year. Dr. Omalu was unable to attend for contract reasons and we were thrilled to have Mr. Visger come on his behalf.
Susan Rueb, Co Founder and current Director of B.R.A.I.N. closed out the evening with words of gratitude to all staff, volunteers, donors, survivors, interested attendees and a special Thank You to God for His favor on the event.