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Brain injury survivor running across Canada to raise awareness

David McGuire’s family was told he may never walk and talk again after a traumatic brain injury in 2005 left him in a coma.

But the 39-year-old overcame the odds and is running across the country to raise awareness about the condition that changed his life.

McGuire doesn’t remember all the details. He was working at a call centre and passed out and was sent home.

A few hours later his girlfriend Mandy, now his wife, came to his house to find a trail of blood and McGuire having a seizure. When doctors opened his skull they discovered his brain had been bleeding for months.

He lapsed into a coma and doctors told his parents he might never wake up and if he did, he wouldn’t be the same man they knew.

However, McGuire did wake up, moved in with his parents in Tsawwassen and started working out and running everywhere.

He decided to seek help from the brain injury society in New West Minister but found it had closed. It left his upset and wondering where people with brain injuries have to go for support.

Shortly afterward, McGuire saw a movie about Terry Fox and decided to follow in Fox’s footsteps, but for a different cause.

“I don’t want people to go through what I went through. It kills families,” he said.

McGuire trek across the country began in St. John’s N.L. in April. He arrives in Nanaimo on Wednesday (Dec. 7) before finishing his cross Canada journey in Victoria Dec. 9, covering 7,230 kilometres.

McGuire is stopping at the Nanaimo Brain Injury Society office, at 285 Prideaux St., at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday. During the visit Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan will proclaim A Run to Remember Day and people can learn about the services of the society.

McGuire and Melissa Wild, run manager, are spreading awareness in schools and communities about the importance of wearing a helmet to prevent brain injuries and raising money for Brain Trust Canada, an association that offers services to people with brain injuries in the Interior.

“Brain injury doesn’t discriminate,” said Wild. “Prevention is the only cure.”

Helmets are important for prevention. McGuire wants helmets to become like seatbelts.

He’s surprised when he goes into schools and asks how many of the children have had a concussion. McGuire said concussions needs to be properly treated and should be called what they are – brain injuries.

Mark Busby, executive director of the Nanaimo Brain Injury Society, said McGuire is brave, courageous and as he crosses the country, is creating conservations among Canadians about brain injury.

“Brain injury has been in the shadows for far too long,” said Busby.

The society has operated in Nanaimo since 1988. It offers a variety of programs including: peer support groups for people suffering from a brain injury and for family and caregivers and Brain Train, a weekly group that meets to improve skills.

The society also provides prevention and education awareness and the Renewing Pathways Centre Clubhouse.

The clubhouse was recently created as a place where people with brain injury can come and feel accepted and understood, and participate in developing skills by volunteering to help run the centre. It is meant to help members build confidence, regain and develop skills, and become more self-sufficient and reach personal goals.

Busby said it’s about social inclusion and an opportunity for people to gain hands-on practical volunteer work experience. The clubhouse is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

For more information on the Nanaimo Brain Injury Society or to donate, please go to www.nbis.ca or call 250-753-5600.

For information on the A Run to Remember please go to www.runtoremember.com.

Quick Facts:

Brain injury is the greatest cause of death and disability under 45.

More than 170,000 Canadians get brain injuries each year, about 456 people per day or one every three minutes.

About 90 per cent of brain injuries are preventable.

Facts courtesy of Brain Trust Canada

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