For Shelli Gardiner, a stroke at the age of 40 set her life on an entirely new path.
“How does one prepare for the aftermath of a severe brain injury?” she asked a crowd that gathered for the 10th Annual Positive Steps in Motion Brain Boogie at Kinsmen Park on Saturday.
A former half-marathon runner, Gardiner had to learn to accept her new reality and take on other activities, such as chair yoga and the Wii gaming consol.
“Life is not perfect, but we accept what’s been handed to us and to the best of our ability we try to move on,” she said.
“My heart truly goes out to those who can’t accept this fact and choose the road to feel sorry for themselves.”
Taking inspiration from Gardiner, Patti Koivisto, who also had a stroke, has taken some time to put her life onto its altered track.
Setting personal goals for herself, she’s slowly been able to ease herself onto this new track by getting out more often and meeting new people.
“This year has been pretty spectacular for me,” she said.
“It’s been a journey of ups and downs, but with the help of family and good friends I’ve found the courage to keep moving forward.”
Saturday’s event at Kinsmen Park had many of the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association’s 30-member Prince Albert chapter turn out for some comradery and learning.
Life is not perfect, but we accept what’s been handed to us and to the best of our ability we try to move on. - Shelli Gardiner
Big on their current agenda is public awareness around brain injuries, with a special focus on concussions, and the ‘oh, it’s just a concussion’ mentality, association volunteer and member Janine Van Nes said.
“They don’t realize they’re possibly killing part of the brain and causing problems down the road,” she explained.
Other misconceptions around brain injuries are also being addressed, with the spectrum condition caused by many different things and affecting people in many different ways.
“It’s kind of an invisible disease for a lot of people, and people don’t realize — they think they’re being lazy,” she said.
In addition to raising awareness, Saturday’s event helped raise funds for the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association, which hosts events throughout the year for those with brain injuries.
For more on the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association, visit their website, online at www.sbia.ca .