BJ Williams is the Manager of the Prevention Department & Court-related Programs at BIA-MA, as well as a survivor of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and founder of the Annual BJ Williams Walk & Run Road Race. Today in his first guest-blogging appearance, he will share how his life changed following his brain injury and why he felt it necessary to start an annual athletic event to raise awareness of brain injury.
Since I was three years old, I dedicated and lived my life to become a professional hockey player. At age 16 I was fortunate enough to attend the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, NY for high school. Following my high school graduation, I spent time in Italy and in Boston playing hockey. On July 28, 2005 before I was able to reach my lifelong goal, I made a decision that would have lifelong consequences.
During the summer of 2005 I landed a construction job working with a good friend. On that sunny Thursday July 28 afternoon, my friend and I were driving home on the Massachusetts Turnpike. My friend lost control of the Ford F-350 truck we were in, and being that I chose not to wear my seatbelt, I was instantly ejected from the passenger window of the vehicle.
When I awoke two days later at Baystate Medical Center I learned that everything I spent my life working for–my desire to be a professional hockey player–was gone. During the days that followed I discovered the extent of my injuries. I am deaf in my right ear, I’ve lost the ability to smell and taste, and I endured multiple skin grafts and suffered four skull fractures that needed a lot of time to fully heal.
The biggest injury was hanging up my skates forever….
My recovery from July 28, 2005 to today has not been easy. From day 1 of the recovery I knew I had to take a different approach to life. Late one night after hearing the story about Dick and Rick Hoyt, I began taking part in road races, triathlons, marathons and even Ironman events in an attempt to motivate myself to feel that my life was far from being over.
Since running in my first marathon in February 2007, I’ve craved the motivation even more. The following year was the first annual BJ Williams Walk & Run Road Race. The mission of the event was never to bring thousands of runners, but just to bring individuals to come and compete with the intention of supporting the prevention of brain injuries. In addition, I wanted runners and walkers who supported those individuals living with brain injuries and who wanted to raise funds for an injury that affects so many people in Massachusetts and around the world.
Since July 28, 2005 I set out to dedicate my life and career to preventing brain injuries and supporting survivors in any way that I can. On September 14, 2013, the 6th Annual BJ Williams Walk & Run Road Race will once again host runners and walkers of all abilities to raise funds and awareness for brain injury. The only way the event will stop is if we reach the mark of raising $100,000. Even then it will probably keep it going!
The 6th Annual BJ Williams Walk and Run Road Race will be on Saturday, September 14, 2013 in Longmeadow, Mass. The event will feature a 5K Walk and a 5K Road Race, all to raise money for the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts and the Joe Andruzzi Foundation! To register now, click here. ‘Like’ the Annual BJ Williams Walk and Run Road Race on Facebook!