Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Easter Seals appreciation dinner

Lynn and I attended the Easter Seals appreciation dinner on Wednesday, November, 19, 2008. Lynn and I were the evening's speakers. I was the Easter Seals patient of the year, 2007. We did really well. I truly believe (and many attendees remarked) that we brought a personal aspect to the otherwise sterile fund raising activity.

When we arrived I spoke to the Easter Seals director of development. She asked me to make my address as personable as I could (i.e. to expose myself to the audience) and she warned me that not everyone had received a letter that I had previously penned to the donor community. That letter had some details about my history so I wrote the first paragraph during the cocktail hour before dinner. We spoke after dinner. Below is my prepared address, which I delivered mostly from memory.

I've been extremely nervous preparing to address you. In my past life, this event would have been nothing. I'll tell you what I mean by that. I've created a BLOG. For those of you who aren't familiar with a BLOG; a BLOG is a website. On my BLOG, there is a documentary film about me and my accident. In the documentary film, there is a scene of me addressing an audience, speaking Italian. Now, that is something to get nervous about. ......Avanti.....

I'm standing in front of you tonight
• as proof of the benefits provided by Easter Seals,
• to thank you for your past donations,
• and to reinforce the need to continue raising funds for Easter Seals.

In January, 2006, while working and living in Italy, I was in a serious car accident. That event changed my life forever. After three months in Italian hospitals, I took a stretcher flight back to the United States. I went directly to Gaylord Hospital. After seven weeks I returned home and I continued therapy as an out-patient at Easter Seals. I entered Easter Seals in a wheel chair and after nine months I was walking with only a cane. Today, I don't even use a cane. My progress was slow but steady due to the professional, dedicated therapists that worked with me.

My memory is poor but I fondly recall the outings we took that helped us regain normal lives, such as bowling, going out to lunch, and shopping. Easter Seals helped me to re-learn basic-but critical tasks, like following a recipe, placing a food order, dividing the bill, collecting money, and making change. Just this past March, Easter Seals helped me to reacquire my driver's license. I successfully passed on my first attempt and I now have my driver license which has helped me recover more of my independence.

As much as Easter Seals has helped my recovery from a traumatic brain injury, family support has been critical to my success. I'd like to introduce you to my number one care-giver, my best friend, my wife, Lynn.

At this point Lynn took over. She spoke from her heart, connected with the audience, and made a true impact. Lynn filled in the gaps about my career at United Technologies Corp., being persuaded to accept the consulting job in Italy, our life in Italy, the night of my accident, how I awoke from my coma in the Italian hospital and could no longer speak Italian, etc.

Lynn did an outstanding job.

1 comment:

Andy said...


Your progress continues to be outstanding. Had I known of your speaking engagement, I would have attended. Hopefully I will be able to get out there and see you soon. I am glad you are enjoying Stella and doing all your biking. You have always been, and will always be the most remarkable person I know.