Brainwaves

Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Blog

Couple’s Love Story Shines at Rays of Hope

The first thing you notice about Kuna and Evie Williams is that they belong together. Maybe it’s their easy manner or the way they look at each other. They just seem to fit.

There’s no guarantee that things will work out happily ever after, but the Williams are doing their best to look out for each other…and their community.

Couple’s Love Story Shines at Rays of Hope

The first thing you notice about Kuna and Evie Williams is that they belong together. Maybe it’s their easy manner or the way they look at each other. They just seem to fit.

There’s no guarantee that things will work out happily ever after, but the Williams are doing their best to look out for each other…and their community.

It was 2006 and Kuna’s friend had recently passed away and several of his buddies were getting together to share memories at a pool hall across town. He put on his helmet and jumped on his motorcycle and departed from the home he was so proud to own.

He never made it. He was hit by a car and his head hit the pavement. Even though he was wearing a helmet, he went into a coma.

For the next year and a half, he was at the Barrow Center for Transitional Neuro-Rehabilitation (CTN). Because he had sustained a TBI and had lost peripheral vision, he was unable to continue to work full time as an architectural draftsman. During this time, he also lost his prized home.

Eventually, through vocational rehab at CTN, he was able to find work at Safeway and eventually drafting, though not at his previous level. He was let go after only 49 days.

While he was able to at least rent an apartment, much was missing from his new life.

Enter Evie.

In 2000, she was a fifth year student at Arizona State University. Her mother had recently died of breast cancer and Evie was developing flu-like symptoms, including headache and nausea. She was convinced they were emotional reactions to her mother’s death.

Several months later, she had something that felt like a seizure. Despite initial reluctance from doctors, Evie’s father insisted they give her a CAT scan. It turned out to be a juvenile tumor, which usually occurs during puberty. But here she was – 22 years old with a slow-growing tumor in her cerebellum.

The resection surgery was completely successful, but she was facing a long road to recovery. After nearly three months at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, she was sent to CTN until Spring, 2003.

Fortunately, Evie was able to continue her studies and receive her B.A. degree while going to rehab part-time. In fact, CTN helped her get a job as a loan officer for a mortgage company.

Fast forward to 2007. Both Kuna and Evie were involved in a young adult Brain Injury Alliance support group bowling event. While in the parking lot afterward, he asked to walk her to her car. She obliged him, but when he asked for her phone number, she politely declined.

They each continued on their separate ways until they ran into each other at a survivor picnic in Gilbert. After the event, she knew busses didn’t go out that far and he would need to find a way home since he didn’t drive. This time, she grabbed his phone, entered her phone number, and offered him a ride.

At his apartment, she fell asleep on his couch and was impressed by his gentleman-like behavior and the fact that he had his own place. “I was attracted to him the previous time, but I had just broken up with my fiancée and wasn’t in that frame of mind,” she admits.

They ended up dating for a few years, eventually getting married on December 12, 2012, or 12-12-12. Kuna jokes, “As brain injury survivors, this makes it much easier for us to remember.”

Today they live in a condo; Kuna primarily works as a caregiver, cleans houses, and designs graphics for a wide range of clients. Evie works for the Arizona Department of Housing, helping people find affordable housing. They were both very involved with the Brain Injury Alliance until COVID hit. However, this year’s in-person Rays of Hope Conference has given them a boost.

“This is a big deal for the entire brain injury community here,” says Evie. “It’s a real opportunity for us to give each other hugs.”

Kuna agrees. “We have to remember to be patient and don’t be afraid to make new friends. These are our new friends.”

There’s no guarantee that things will work out happily ever after, but the Williams are doing their best to look out for each other…and their community.

ABOUT BRAIN INJURY ALLIANCE OF ARIZONA

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona (BIAAZ) is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of adults and children with all types of brain injuries through prevention, advocacy, awareness and education. BIAAZ also houses the Arizona Brain Health Resource Center, a collection of educational information and neuro-specific resources for brain injury survivors, caregivers, family members and professionals.

What began in 1983 as a grassroots effort has grown into a strong statewide presence, providing valuable life-long resources and community support for individuals with all types of brain trauma at no charge.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona:

  • Works with Congressional Brain Injury Task Force
  • Houses Arizona Brain Health Resource Center
  • Hosts Statewide Opioid Use Disorder & Cognitive Impairment Workgroup
  • Has Statewide Opioid Use Disorder & Cognitive Impairment Response team with peer support, training, and family wraparound services
  • Facilitates Brain Health Advisory Council
  • Manages statewide Neuro Info-Line: 888-500-9165

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