June 2013 was Brain Injury Awareness Month (BIAM), and as it has for the last several years, the month included an event at Nathan Phillips Square which promoted knowledge of brain injuries and their treatment. Sponsored by the Brain Injury Society of Toronto (BIST) and the Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA), the event was very successful and attracted quite the crowd. At lunch on July 12th, crowds of passers-by experienced “Brainstock 2013”; they were entertained and educated about the reality of brain injuries. Pictures from the event can be seen on Flickr.
The free event was headlined by “Pop Idols in Concert”, an act that gave tribute to Rihanna and Beyonce. The entertainers attracted a wonderful audience, who then interacted with a variety of booths and displays to find out more about our subject and the reason for the event. This year the theme focused on the frequency of sports-related injuries and their effect on daily lives. There were interactive booths set up to give a moment’s effect of what a disability might be like in daily interaction; people tried to play games with one hand behind their back, or wearing glasses that cut down their vision.
Chris Brown was the primary MC, and he introduced the entertainers and our guests, who spoke about the effects of brain injuries. These included: Toronto Maple Leafs veterans Ron Ellis (16 seasons in the NHL) and Wayne Primeau (1st round draft pick of Buffalo Sabres, 774 games in the NHL), along with fellow NHL forward Cam Stewart (Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild).
Close to half a million Ontarians currently live with an acquired brain injury (ABI) with 18,000 new cases are added every year, at an estimated cost of $1 billion. The annual incidence of ABI is greater than that of Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Cord Injury, HIV/AIDS and Breast Cancer combined.
The special guest was Paul Rosen, Canadian Sledge Hockey Paralypian and Gold Medalist, who lost his lower leg over a decade ago, at the age of 39. He continues today to be an athlete and a motivational speaker.
Paul Gilkinson, the retiring Vice President Service Delivery at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and staff presented BIST with a cheque for $2,000.00.
Overall, the weather was wonderful and the crowds were significant. People were attracted by the music and the activity, and many stopped to learn about the reason for the event, and to chat with representatives from our different groups. It was more than just having fun at lunch, and I heard many comments from people who had stopped by before, that this was the most effective BIAM event yet.
Parts of this post were also published on the blog of the Brain Injury Society of Toronto, at TorontoBrainInjuryBlog.com.