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A Father’s Day that May Not Have Been

Dear Brain Injury Services:

As I prepare to celebrate my 24th Father’s Day, I can’t help but think about how far my family and I have come with the help of Brain Injury Services, and I just wanted to reach out in honor of my son, Daniel.

At just five years old, in the summer of 2003, Daniel began his day by taking in the cool breeze across his face in his grandparent’s vehicle on their way to get breakfast. Moments later, he would be airlifted to UVA hospital, and we would be given a grim prognosis. Daniel had suffered unimaginable trauma to his body. More than that, he suffered a closed head injury that would alter the course of our lives.

Over the course of the next year-and-a-half, Daniel slowly transitioned his way out of a coma to intensive care and on to therapists that would help him re-learn how to walk, talk, eat, and take care of himself. Initially, doctors told us that he wouldn’t make it. If he did, he would never walk and talk again. Daniel defied everyone and made good use of his wheelchair and his walker, eventually leaving the rehabilitation center and walking on his own.

Our job was to see to it that Daniel got the best care and attention we could possibly give. For me, as his father, that meant realizing that I also had some stepping up to do. There’s no instruction manual for survivors but, luckily, we found Brain Injury Services, and it’s been a game-changer!

Daniel joined the PALS (Providing A Link for Survivors) program and looks forward to every meeting with his PALS volunteer. Daniel’s participation in PALS gives him a social connection that he wouldn’t otherwise feel comfortable making and shows him that there are others out there who may share his interests. Still inspired by my son’s recovery, I became active in the PALS program a few years back. Daniel has taken advantage of BIS’ job coaching opportunities, case management abilities, and other support opportunities that he wouldn’t otherwise have if not for BIS. I can’t tell you how it feels to hear Daniel say, “hey dad, I have a meeting with Brain Injury Services in a few minutes.”

My family knows we are not alone. BIS has support groups for survivors and caregivers. I know that I can talk to a staff member that cares about Daniel and know that whenever we hit a speed bump or need a bit of guidance, BIS is there.

I wasn’t supposed to have this Father’s Day with him, or the last 19, and although Daniel doesn’t realize it, he still inspires me every day. He made me the father I am.

Father’s Day is really a celebration of Daniel and his siblings for me, and in honor of that I choose to celebrate Brain Injury Services for every father able to thank BIS for being there for them.

Thank you, Brain Injury Services!

Michael Dean
Father of Daniel Dean, Survivor