A health educator explains the basic anatomy of the central nervous system and the permanent physiological changes caused by a brain or spinal cord injury.
CHARLOTTE'S HISTORY WITH HEALTH CARE
Charlotte has a masters degree in early childhood education and is a safety advocate for children, older adults and communities. Her work as the ThinkFirst injury prevention program coordinator allows her to provide education that will make a difference on our roads.
Charlotte believes in ThinkFirst because it provides an opportunity to provide education to our youth and share a real world story about making choices. The program's message instigates a thought process to think first and consider the daily choices each of us make.
DALYNN'S HISTORY WITH HEALTH CARE
Dalynn is a nurse in trauma services at Research Medical Center. She has spent several years working as an emergency department and trauma nurse and has cared for numerous traumatically injured patients. Dalynn also serves as a presenter for our Young Traffic Offenders Program.
Dalynn speaks for ThinkFirst so she can continue to pursue her interest in trauma and injury prevention. Her goal is to empower those she reaches through knowledge.
JENNY'S HISTORY WITH HEALTH CARE
Jenny has a BSN in nursing from University of Missouri - Kansas City and was the trauma coordinator and nurse manager of the emergency department at Research Medical Center for eight years. She implemented the initial set up and management of the trauma service to establish Research as a trauma center and was involved with Heads Up, now known as ThinkFirst, as part of her trauma coordinator position nearly 30 years ago. Jenny returned to ThinkFirst as a Health Educator in 2003.
After caring for numerous traumatic brain injured and spinal cord injured patients and their families, Jenny wants to encourage local youth to make smart choices in preventing these devastating, life-changing injuries. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young adults ages 16-24. She believes that if we can sway our youth to avoid distractions behind the wheel, we can make a difference in the fatality rates in our region.
MADDIE'S HISTORY WITH HEALTH CARE
Maddie graduated from The University of Kansas School of Nursing in 2013. Since graduating, she has been a nurse at The University of Kansas Hospital where she works in the medical transplant intenstive care unit caring for liver and kidney transplant patients along with many other medical and surgical patients. She plans to attend graudate school to become a nurse practitioner.
Maddie joined the ThinkFirst team in April 2014. Her favorite aspect of the program is getting to witness the impact that is made on students. She enjoys getting to know the VIP Speakers and support their story telling. She hopes this program encourages students to think first, as one decision can affect a lifetime.
MARY BETH'S HISTORY WITH HEALTH CARE
Mary Beth has an extensive career in health care. She was an ICU and cardiac rehabilitation nurse at Baptist Medical Center, a cardiovascular nurse clinician at St. Luke's Hospital and has experience as a home health nurse. She was a volunteer school nurse at St. Elizabeth Catholic School and a staff nurse for the Score 1 for Health program at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. Mary Beth has also worked with a travel and immunization clinic and is a certified Pietra Fitness instructor.
Mary Beth is passionate about health and wellness education. She enjoys working with children and believes that ThinkFirst is an excellent program with an extremely important message.
MOLLY'S HISTORY WITH HEALTH CARE
Molly graduated Benedictine College with a bachelor of science in nursing. She currently works as a nurse in the medical intensive care unit at University of Kansas Hospital. She has been there since the summer of 2016, working with patients of all backgrounds, including brain and spinal cord patients.
Molly chose to speak for ThinkFirst because the temptation for youth to feel invincible needs to be met with education. She believes that reaching kids before they make decisions saves lives. Molly hopes that ThinkFirst's example can help. ThinkFirst assemblies have made an impact on the way she lives her life and she hopes she can do the same for others.
ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City VIP speakers describe life before their injury, explain how their injury occurred and how it could have been prevented and share what it's like to be young and live with a disability.
Date: June 14, 2004
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Place: Farm outside of Lamoni, Iowa
Factors: SUV rolled, flew out of front windshield
Diagnosis: T-5, T-6 spinal cord injury
Prognosis: Uncertain if feeling or ability to walk again will occur
Andrew was a thriving high school student before his injury. He played sports, enjoyed music, performed in rodeos and was involved in his church youth group. He wanted to pursue a career as an athletic trainer or chiropractor and play basketball in college.
Andrew now teaches private music lessons for a living. He plays on a wheelchair basketball team and is active in his church as a priesthood member. Andrew also shares the story of his injury through various volunteer opportunities.
Date: June 5, 2013
Time: 3:00 a.m.
Place: I-35 and Lamar, Roeland Park, KS
Patient: 21-year-old male
Factors: Driver, no seat belt, drinking
Diagnosis: C-5, C-6 Spinal Cord Injury
Before his injury, Cameron worked full-time at Walmart. He enjoyed life by attending music video shoots, concerts and sporting events.
Cameron is now a full-time college student pursuing his bachelor's degree. He has lived on his own for the past two years and still goes to concerts and music video shoots. He hopes to one day have a family.
Date: March 19, 2009
Time: 7:19 p.m.
Place: Overland Park, KS
Patient: 16-year-old male
Factors: Passenger in a car involved in a left turn accident
Diagnosis: Traumatic brain injury, comatose for one month following injury
Prognosis: Not expected to survive
Carl's life before his car crash was careless. He did what he wanted because he thought he was invincible.
Carl now lives his life with a traumatic brain injury. He has the determination he didn't have before. The right side of his body is disabled, so he works out every day. He now has a more positive outlook on life.
Date: September 4, 2005
Time: 2:00 a.m.
Place: Kansas City, Missouri
Patient: 23-year-old male, senior at Park University
Factors: Single car crash, impaired, using cell phone, no seat belt
Diagnosis: Traumatic brain injury, comatose for three-and-a-half months
Prognosis: Not expected to survive
After high school, Chad attended Maple Woods Community College and received an associate’s degree while working full-time. After graduating, he began studying business management at Park University and achieved a 4.0 GPA. He also worked full-time at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store where he was an assistant manager of the bikes and fitness department. He had his own apartment, a good group of friends and a fiancé.
As a result of his accident, Chad sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). It takes him longer to learn new things and multi-tasking has become difficult. He went back to school at Park University, but issues with his memory kept him from retaining enough material to pass the required classes. Chad got a job working part-time as a cashier at Target. But because his TBI affected his vision and reaction time, he can no longer drive. He now lives with his parents for transportation assistance. His friends and fiancé visited him after he returned from rehab, but his brain injury resulted in amnesia, leaving a four-year gap in his memory and no recollection of those he was close with. He shares his story with ThinkFirst in hopes to prevent the same thing from happening to others.
Date: November 8, 2012
Place: I-70 and I-29 interchange in Missouri
Patient: 20-year-old female from Independence, Missouri
Factors: Road rage, no seat belt
Diagnosis: T-12 spinal cord injury
Before her crash, Ciara had recently graduated from Lee's Summit North High School. She was attending cosmetology school and clocked a lot of hours as the manager of a quick service restaurant. Her life was all about working hard to achieve her goals.
Ciara's car flipped nine times and she was ejected 58-feet away from the vehicle. It caused both of her lungs to collapse and breaks in her clavicle, scapula and several vertebrae. She was in a coma for a month and hospitalized for three months. Her injury has made it difficult to work and live in her home. Everything about Ciara's life changed and she has had to learn how to complete tasks in completely new ways.
Date: July 12, 2005
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Place: Belton, Missouri
Patient: 15-year-old female, high school sophomore
Factors: Passenger of an inexperienced driver, speeding, not wearing a seat belt
Diagnosis: C-7 spinal cord injury
Prognosis: Quadriplegic, never walk again
Before her injury, Heather was young and energetic. She was active in sports and spent a lot of time with friends. She was a good student with straight A's and was actively planning for her future.
Heather has found a way to stay active despite her injury. She lost a lot of friends and family, but focused on school, graduated and found a career in which she can help others.
Date: August 11, 2007
Time: 10:30 p.m.
Patient: 15-year-old high school student
Factors: Passenger in the back seat, preparing to race, drunk driver crashed into the back of car
Diagnosis: Traumatic brain injury
Prognosis: Hopeful for significant recovery, impossible to predict
Before his injury, Jack was interested in street racing and boxing. He had a job and spent a lot of time with his friends. He was outgoing, funny and often called the class clown.
After his injury, Jack was faced with therapy and rehab. He developed anxiety and sleep disorders and lost his appetite and motivation. He's working to improve himself through surgeries, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
Date: September 27, 1998
Time: 4 p.m.
Factors: No seat belt, driving too fast, drinking
Diagnosis: T6 complete spinal cord injury
Prognosis: Permanently paralyzed, no movement or sensation from the lower chest down
Kelly was very active before her injury. She had a bachelors degree in both health and exercise science and psychology and worked as a restaurant server. At age 25, she spent a lot of time with her friends.
The first two years after her injury required a difficult adjustment, including a procedure to stop bladder accidents. She is now a professional speaker, active military spouse, dog and animal lover and disability rights advocate. Her biggest struggle is being treated differently everyday.
Date: September 2, 2011
Time: 9:20 p.m.
Patient: 17-year-old female, high school junior
Factors: Single car crash, drinking and driving
Diagnosis: T6-T7 spinal cord injury
Before suffering a spinal cord injury, Marlana was a senior in high school who loved playing basketball, being a cheerleader and blaring the radio while she danced until she dropped. She was always happy, smiling, finding something to laugh about and surrounding herself with people. Her social life was a large part of her day-to-day. She found fun in whatever she was doing.
After her injury, Marlana still managed to graduate high school on time. She got stuck in her hometown with nowhere to go, nothing to do and no way to get anywhere. It was difficult for her and her family. Marlana moved in with her grandparents in Kansas City to start anew and began speaking for ThinkFirst. She was trying to find a purpose for her injury. Through ThinkFirst, she found inspiration. She is meeting students, changing their lives and encouraging them to make better decisions.
Date: April 4, 1994
Time: 10:00 p.m.
Place: Parkville, Missouri
Patient: 17-year-old female, high school junior
Factors: Single car crash, passenger in a convertible with no seat belt
Diagnosis: T-12 spinal cord injury
Before her injury, Sarah was very athletic. She played volleyball and softball and loved to run, dance and work out. She planned to become a television broadcaster, had a boyfriend and good group of friends.
After sustaining her injury, Sarah had to give up certain dreams and create new ones. She has taken an interest in volunteering and traveling and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
Date: August 8, 2004
Time: 4:20 p.m.
Patient: 17 year old, high school senior
Factors: Single car crash, distracted and sleep deprived
Diagnosis: C5 Spinal Cord Injury
Before her injury, Tonya was very active. She enjoyed playing basketball and volleyball, dancing, riding dirt bikes and four-wheelers, traveling and singing. Tonya spent most of her time having fun with friends and family. She dreamed of joining the military or, one day, becoming a trauma nurse. Most people described her as social, independent and always on the go.
Tonya still enjoys being active despite her injury. She spends as much time outdoors as possible and attends concerts and sporting events whenever she can. She misses being independent and spontaneous, so her personal goals have shifted. Tonya speaks for ThinkFirst to help others avoid preventable spinal cord injuries and change social perceptions of individuals with disabilities.
ThinkFirst About Concussion speakers talk about the importance of sports-related concussions. They talk to student athletes about why head injuries and concussion testing should be taken seriously.
Date: September 12, 2014
Time: 9:15 p.m.
Place: Olathe, Kansas
Patient: 18-year-old male, senior football player Olathe East High School
Factors: Routine tackle during a high school football game
Diagnosis: Acute subdural hematoma
Prognosis: Told he may be in a permanent vegetative state
James was a very active teenage boy. He was a senior and had just received his acceptance to the University of Arkansas. He played football, ran track and played the cello at Olathe East High School. James was also involved with a recreational basketball and swim team. While he was involved with all of these activities, he maintained his GPA and was a member of National Junior Honor Society. Outside of school and sports, James attended several church youth groups.
Since his injury, James's life has changed drastically. He was able to graduate with his class but was not able to attend college as he had planned. While he has retained all of the information that he learned prior to the injury, he still struggles with his short-term memory which makes retaining new information difficult. For this reason, he is taking basic core courses at Johnson County Community College. His balance and coordination has been challenged by this injury and he can no longer compete at the same level he did before the accident. He needs stand by assistance at all times and cannot drive. His balance and coordination continues to improve but it might be years before he knows if he will make a full recovery.