BRAIN WAVES

Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Blog

 How a Blown Tire Brought a Family Together

When someone gets new tires, it’s not usually the makings for a human-interest piece. But when those tires are a donation from a nonprofit group that keep a family together, well, it’s literally a different story.

Luke Fadell. Veterans Services Coordinator, Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona

 How a Blown Tire Brought a Family Together

When someone gets new tires, it’s not usually the makings for a human-interest piece. But when those tires are a donation from a nonprofit group that keep a family together, well, it’s literally a different story.

Luke Fadell. Veterans Services Coordinator, Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona

Looking for a way to deal with this emergency, Tony called Luke to hear what suggestions his peer support specialist might have. The Army Veteran was able to surprise Tony with great news— a generous group of donors who understand the challenges of life after brain injury had created a fund for situations like this— a safety net for survivors of brain injury

Tony has served our country, first as a Navy Veteran, then as a first responder (firefighter) for more than 10 years. During that time, he experienced at least six concussions. While recovering from these traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), Tony experienced gaps in employment, depression, and trouble maintaining housing. These issues are all too familiar among those who have had a head injury, yet these factors can start to stack the deck against a survivor. Looking for support and help regaining his bearings during COVID, Tony turned to the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona. Working with their Veterans Services Coordinator Luke Fadell, Tony was able to make a plan to maintain stable housing the last two years. He also was awarded custody of his young daughter.

He happily accepted the responsibility while simultaneously being enrolled in VRRAP (Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program), which Luke had brought to his attention. Through VRRAP, he was able to get past COVID, go back to school, pay his bills, and still have time to spend with his daughter. Tony made the extra effort to keep his daughter connected to her maternal grandparents, even though the baby’s mom was not in her life. The court mandated these visits and required Tony to provide transportation. These trips required him driving 150 miles on visitation weekends.

Fast forward to 9:00pm on a beautiful spring evening in Flagstaff. He was on his way home; early the next morning, he would be bringing his little girl to her grandparents for the weekend. Suddenly, a tire blew, and he was stranded on a dangerous on ramp. He managed to be towed to safety, but the tow truck cost him his last $190. While he had carefully maintained a budget, he hadn’t yet been able to save for emergencies and this was going to impact his ability to pay his rent, which would lead to additional late fees and a possible eviction. Tony was on the cusp of teetering back into the cycle he had worked so hard to get out of. To top it off, his other tires were also worn out, meaning a blowout was bound to happen again… and again. He also had to contend with the fact that no tires meant no driving, which would be in violation of the court order. But his greater concern was that the vehicle was not then safe to transport his daughter.

Looking for a way to deal with this emergency, Tony called Luke to hear what suggestions his peer support specialist might have. The Army Veteran was able to surprise Tony with great news— a generous group of donors who understand the challenges of life after brain injury had created a fund for situations like this— a safety net for survivors of brain injury.

Within hours, Tony had four new tires and a front-end inspection; early Saturday morning, he and his daughter were off on their 150-mile trek. His little girl was able to see her grandparents on time, and he didn’t violate any court orders. All this, thanks in great part to his connection to the Brain Injury Alliance.

Luke explains why his almost-two-year association with Tony is so meaningful to him. “Through our donor-funded supports and services, Tony has put in the work and has shown that he isn’t going to be held back by his TBI anymore. What’s more, he is on his way to a good life for his daughter and himself.”

Through his time with the Army and the Brain Injury Alliance, Luke has seen one commonly recurring theme: life tends to take you by surprise, and it is impossible to plan for all the challenges we may encounter along the way.

“We’re all about helping Vets who want to help themselves, but when their backs are up against the wall sometimes, all it takes is that little extra knowledge that someone cares,” he shares.

That…and a reliable set of tires.

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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