74 – 72 Villanova. They won it all last year….
I have watched March Madness also known as the NCAA Basketball Tournament since I was in High School and still fill out my bracket every year, this year, however, has not been the same as Marches past. The madness started a little earlier and had a very different focus. My alarm went off at 4:00 am on the 6th which started a whirlwind of activity that has included travel to conferences, meetings, lunches and dinners with friends, family, associates and new acquaintances all with the goal of learning how I can better advocate for the survivors of Traumatic and Acquired Brain Injury.
On the 6th, My Son, Bryan and I traveled to The Resort at Glade Springs in Daniels, WV to attend the 3rd Annual West Virginia Conference on Traumatic Brain Injury. The conference was a huge success with over 150 attendees and a vast wealth of important information shared by a wide variety of specialists. There was nationally known Inspirational speaker Darcy Keith who as a college student survived a horrific automobile accident in which she sustained a severe traumatic brain injury and her recovery to graduate with honors and then go on to inspire thousands with her message of overcoming and moving from just surviving to thriving. Darcy’s website is http://www.darcykeith.com/ Also sharing his story of overcoming adversity was Andy Arias, who as a disabled child, spent many years in the foster system but against the odds, has become a nationally known advocate for inclusion throughout the disabled community. You can read more about Andy in his Department of Labor blog here.
There was a lot of other significant information presented at the conference including several classes on treatment available to Veterans in the VA system and many sessions directed toward medical professionals to help them better understand how to serve the TBI community. Every session I attended was thorough and professional.
The following Monday, March 11th, I hit the road again, this time, headed to Washington DC for Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capital Hill. More meetings and sessions but with a different focus. This trip was geared toward networking with other states and presenting a unified front to the Federal Government with the intent of keeping the silent epidemic which is Traumatic Brain Injury visible to the eyes of Legislators who can help us make a difference.
We met with staff members of West Virginia Senators Joe Manchin and Shelly Moore Capito and Congressman David Mckinley. Teresa McCourt and Brad Anderson did an excellent job presenting our case and all the staffers were very receptive to our needs, taking notes and asking questions.
Basketball tournaments start this week, but my March Madness has already started, and my hope is that in that madness, we were able to make a genuine difference in the real lives of those living with the reality of Traumatic Brain Injury.