Brain injury survivor urges support for association

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

When scores of walkers gathered in Rochester’s Seneca Park Aug. 27 to raise more than $16,000 for the Brain Injury Association of New York State, one of the individuals they honored was Christopher Fuqua, son of Carrie Ahearn, co-owner of Penn Yan Diner.

Fuqua, now 25, was in a serious automobile accident when he was 18 years old. It was the day that changed his life, and set the course for a new normal, says Ahearn.

Before the accident, he was a high school graduate planning to enter the Air National Guard in Niagara Falls.

Now, after seven years of work, he’s just beginning a two-year program at Genesee Community College in Batavia to become a physical therapy assistant.

“Brain Injury Association of New York State played a role in my support team that enabled my successful recovery,” says Fuqua. “I believe every traumatic brain injury victim deserves this same service to help aid their recovery to return their life to as normal a state as achievable. I now strive to dedicate my life to helping others in need as I was, as well as enjoying the life I still have,” he says.

The Aug. 27 event, “March on for Brain Injury” raised funds for the organization that, since 1982, has provided information, resources, advocacy and support to individuals and their families impacted by brain injury in New York. BIANYS provides a variety of programs to New Yorkers including advocacy, counseling and training, public policy advocacy, prevention programs, resources and support groups including the family helpline and National Brain Injury Information Center (NBIIC).

Ahearn says donations can still be made in honor of her son, or in memory of Don Dailey, another brain injury survivor with ties to Penn Yan who recently passed away.

In a recent internet post, Fuqua wrote, “Many people are lost due to Traumatic Brain Injury. And those that are still around after sustaining one feel lost. Their entire life has been altered. Loss of independence, loss of function and mobility, even down to the way—and how well, you think is changed. It is incredibly easy to lose yourself without a great support team.”

He said others don’t treat him the same as they did before the accident. “I often feel as if I died and what’s left is just the shadow of my former self.”

He encourages people to reach out to support people who have sustained a traumatic brain injury, concussion or post-traumatic stress disorder.

For details or to make a donation, visit the donation page at https://rochestermarchon.bianys.org.