Olympic Hopeful Ky Westbrook to Address Biaaz Ceo Leadership Breakfast
Ky Westbrook was a leading contender for the U.S. Olympics team scheduled to compete in Tokyo in 2020. As one of Arizona’s greatest track and field stars of all time, USC full-ride athletic scholarship graduate, and World Youth Champion in the 100-meter dash, the Chandler resident was ready for the international stage.
However, COVID-19 had different plans for her – and the rest of the world. The Games were postponed, and after a lifetime of training, she had to concede this was one hurdle she couldn’t overcome by hard work and determination alone.
After a great deal of introspection, she rededicated her efforts to compete in the Games, now rescheduled for 2021, due to her athletic drive and understanding of the importance of brain health.
Her story serves as an inspiration to all people dealing with obstacles seemingly out of their control, which is why Ky will be a featured presenter at the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Brain Health (BIAAZ) CEO Leadership Breakfast on September 18.
“When I heard the Olympics were not going to be held, I was afraid, stressed, uncertain, and in overall disbelief,” says Ky. “I have been competing in track since I was nine years old and going to the Olympics has been my main goal since I set foot on the track.”
Since then, she has learned that much of her disappointment stems from one’s own perception and expectations. “Injury, loss, and failure… these all occur to every person at some point or another. These obstacles are very difficult to face, and even more difficult to overcome.”
However, shifting the perception and expectation surrounding these events can really help one move forward and upward – back on track, if you will. “Actively recovering from an injury, talking through and grieving a loss, changing direction and standing back up from a failure. Shifting my mindset about these things helped me to not only deal with disappointment, but to overcome it.”
Now she sees the Olympic postponement as an opportunity. “I have another year to train even harder and build even more, giving me an even greater chance of success for next year!”
For Ky, the key has been maintaining a healthy body…and mind. “I have learned that it is important for everyone to be informed and active in their own brain health. Your brain is always in use and can be affected in ways that you would not normally think.
“Many people are unaware of external factors that can impact the brain because they have not been exposed to the extensive research that has been done in regard to brain health.”
Part of the 24-year-old’s secret to a well-balanced life is her ability to enjoy down time. This includes watching comedians on YouTube while indulging in homemade popcorn. However, her number one movie of all time isn’t a comedy. It’s Howl’s Moving Castle, the animated film about an unconfident teenage girl cursed by a witch into an old woman’s body.
Her positive affect is evident in her favorite quote: Don’t let one drop of ink turn the blue ocean black. Speaking of oceans, she’s also travelled quite a bit, but the coolest place in the world she’s ever visited…is Puerto Rico.
So what don’t most people know about Ky Westbrook? “My front two teeth are uneven, because in high school I somehow managed to chip my tooth on a beaker.”
When it comes to educating people with or without brain injury, Ky is happy to pass the baton. “Before I was aware of BIAAZ, I thought that brain health was only relevant for people with severe brain health problems and issues.
“BIAAZ has many resources which allow for people to not only be aware and proactive in their own health, but those around them as well.”
She also credits her parents for teaching her about perspective. “I don’t think it is realistic to have a positive attitude about absolutely everything in life, because there are definitely things that are frustrating, sad, and just difficult to process and overcome. But we can always be aware of our own perspective and shift that to help us see the world in a brighter light.”
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 the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force
- Houses Arizona Brain Health Resource Center
- Hosts the Statewide Opioid Use Disorder & Cognitive Impairment Workgroup
- Deploys a Statewide Opioid Use Disorder & Cognitive Impairment Response Team with peer support, training and family wraparound services
- Facilitates the Brain Health Advisory Council
- Manages a Statewide Neuro Info-Line 888-500-9165