Some people run because they love the freedom of that particular form of exercise. For others it is cathartic or a way to keep in shape. Thirty-eight year old David McGuire runs for another reason. He suffered a brain injury in 2005 that changed his life.
McGuire doesn’t remember what happened to him the day his world was turned upside down. He just remembers an explosion in his head. Whether it was a stroke, a fall or a brain bleed that caused McGuire’s brain injury, no one will ever know.
David woke up in the hospital seven days later with tubes running everywhere. It was from this moment on that a new David slowly emerged. One with much to learn.
McGuire was told he may never walk again, but by 2006 he had completed his first marathon. “I started working out shortly after I moved in with Mom and Dad,” he stated. “Television confused me, I couldn’t read because I couldn’t remember what I had just read and I was literally looking around at the walls of their home trying to figure out something I could do.”
There was a gym in McGuire’s parents condominium complex. McGuire started working out. It was something he could do and he started running. “I would run a straight line out and a straight line back,” McGuire said. “Otherwise, I would get lost.”
Since no two brain injuries are alike, McGuire felt like there should be a great support team ready to help once he left the hospital. What he found however, was waiting lists and obstacles. “I needed answers and I needed help,” he said. “G.F. Strong had an eighteen month wait list. I was supposed to be assigned a social worker, but she was off on maternity leave and there was no replacement.”
McGuire found the lack of help available to brain injured patients in Canada shocking, especially in light of the statistics nationwide. Brain injury is the largest cause of death and disability in people under 45 years of age. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes all fall behind. “Over 170,000 Canadians incur brain injury each year – that’s 483 people per day, or one every 3 minutes,” notes A Run to Remember hand-out. “Prevention is the cure,” McGuire stressed. “Awareness is the key.”
It was McGuire’s journey to recovery that led him to his current goal. He decided that he would run a marathon a day across Canada to raise awareness for brain injury. Starting in St. John’s Newfoundland on April 1, McGuire began. Now the finish line is within reach.
Last Thursday, McGuire ran through Princeton. He plans to reach his finish line of Victoria, B.C. by month’s end. “I want to inspire youth and I want people to think about what can happen if they don’t wear a helmet. I am not the same person I was before and I never will be that person again. You can’t see a brain injury, but it is there…taking away your memory, especially your short term memory and you can’t always get that back. I may look okay, but if I have to be retrained the same thing every day or told the same thing every day…that is a problem. A brain injury is not like a broken arm. It doesn’t just heal up. There is no cure. People go do stupid things, especially youth, and it has gotten worse, not better. They can go do the stupid thing, but they need to wear a helmet. A brain injury is disabling and you don’t always recover.”
McGuire partnered with Brain Trust Canada for his long journey on foot. Brain Trust’s Melissa Wild has been driving the motorhome and vehicle and been McGuire’s main cheerleader throughout the endless days of pavement. She said, “Brain Trust Canada felt that a member needed to make the journey with David to make sure his efforts were the most effective they could be.”
It is not easy to run a marathon a day nor is it easy to be a survivor of a brain injury. McGuire has taken it one day at a time. “A brain injury isn’t glamorous nor is it something that gets anywhere near the amount of publicity cancer does. With cancer you are still the same person, you are just trying to overcome your cancer. With a brain injury, you are not the same person and you can’t always speak up. Those of us who can speak up need to. Brain injured people need help…all kinds of help to get their life back together and the help just isn’t there for them right here in Canada. This needs to change.”
To donate to A Run to Remember go to the website www.runtoremember.com, text “brain” to 45678, send a cheque or money order to BrainTrust Canada in Kelowna or make a deposit at a Scotiabank account #801500051020.
Go to www.runtoremember.com for more information on David’s journey.