San Jose Walk for Thought Organizers Aim to Raise $50,000 and Increase Awareness of Traumatic Brain Injury

Monday, February 13, 2012 — San Jose, Calif.—February 12, 2012—An estimated 250 people will participate in the 2012 “Walk For Thought” San Jose, on March 31 at Almaden Lake Park in San Jose, to help ensure that the more than 1.7 million Americans affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year receive the care they need.

The San Jose “Walk for Thought” aims to raise $50,000 for The Brain Injury Association of California (BIACAL), double the record-breaking $25,000 raised last year. In addition, the walk is intended to generate equally valuable awareness about TBI in our community. So far, the top two fundraising teams fielded by San Jose are “Get Stow-ked” and “Bryan’s Brigade,” both of which include family, friends and supporters of Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan who was beaten at a Los Angeles Dodgers game and was treated at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Rehabilitation Center for TBI.

The San Jose “Walk for Thought” is one of 10 walks throughout the state organized by BIACAL, a non-profit membership organization and state affiliate of the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), providing information, resources, education, advocacy and support for Californians affected by brain injury.

The local event is organized by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Rehabilitation Research Center (RRC), Services for Brain Injury (SBI) and City of San Jose Head Injury Recreation and Leisure Network (HIRLN).

“Traumatic brain injury is a split-second type of injury,” said Stephanie A. Kolakowsky-Hayner, PhD, CBIST, director of rehabilitation research at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Rehabilitation Research Center. “From our very youngest children injured riding bicycles to our teenagers in motor vehicle accidents to our aging family members who may have a fall or a stroke—no one is immune.”

“Almost 5.5 million people are living with a disability from TBI,” said Kolakowsky-Hayner, whose center will receive some of the money raised by the Walk for Thought to fund its quarterly educational programs and a peer support program for those disabled by TBI or brain injury acquired from injuries like stroke. “Brain injury impacts everything that makes you a person—social interactions, work, memory, physical functioning. With greater community awareness and support programs, we can help people adapt to a new way of life.”

Walk Details:
The 2012 “Walk for Thought” will be held Saturday, March 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Almaden Lake Park, Arroyo Picnic Area, 6099 Winfield Blvd. in San Jose. The one-mile walk is designed to be minimally demanding and is completely ADA accessible. Santa Clara Local Firefighters Union 1165 will be providing their hot dogs and veggie burgers, a DJ from Big Fun will play music, and local nonprofits and businesses will provide a resource fair.

“For many with brain injuries, going out into the community can be stressful and even feel impossible. They’re afraid of getting lost or disoriented,” said Liz Best, a therapeutic specialist with the City of San José Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services, which takes people with traumatic brain injury on various outings. “It benefits our society as a whole to provide these opportunities for people with a disability, opportunities to communicate, socialize, deal with difficult situations, or participate in recreation opportunities of all kinds. They learn skills that can be transferred to all areas of their lives.

“Everyone knows the city has had a lot of budget cuts and layoffs,” said Best, whose department is a co-host of the Walk and will receive a portion of the money raised. “The Walk for Thought keeps our programs going, and without these funds we won’t be able to continue this support for people with disabilities.”

How Can People Help?
Supporters and businesses are invited to participate in one or more ways:

  1. Create a team to raise funds in advance to their taking part in the walk
  2. Join an existing team and start fund-raising for your team
  3. Sponsor a walker with a donation
  4. Businesses can sponsor the walk and gain community visibility. Download the attached Sponsorship Packet or contact Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner at (408) 793-6446.

Details, donation options and registration are available at

TBI Facts
Anyone could be affected by TBI, because the leading causes are accidents including falls and auto crashes. The age groups facing the highest risk are 0- to 4-year-olds and 15- to 19-year-olds. The number of people with TBI who receive no care is unknown. Of those who are treated for TBI, 50,000 die, 235,000 are hospitalized and 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency department. Meanwhile, the direct medical costs of TBI and indirect costs such as lost productivity totaled an estimated $60 billion in the United States in 1995.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 3.17 Million Americans currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a TBI. According to one study, about 40 percent of those hospitalized with a TBI had at least one unmet need for services one year after their injury. The most frequent unmet needs were: improving memory and problem solving; managing stress and emotional upsets; controlling one’s temper; and improving one’s job skills.

TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, language, learning, emotions, behavior, and/or sensation. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.

About Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Rehabilitation Research Center
The Rehabilitation Research Center conducts research to better understand and improve outcomes after TBI, and strives to provide information, education, and support to injured persons and their families. The RRC is located at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California. It is funded through grants from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, US Department of Education. Learn more at

About Services for Brain Injury
Since 1989, Services for Brain Injury has served individuals and families touched by all types of brain injury. SBI provides education, advocacy and support to enable survivors to regain skills to maximize independence and return to work. Learn more at

About City of San Jose Head Injury Recreation and Leisure Network
A social group for people who have had head injuries or strokes, the Head Injury Recreation and Leisure Network is coordinated by the City of San José Office of Therapeutic Services. HIRLN hosts a series of outings and special events for survivors of brain injuries and strokes and their families. Learn more at

More information about the San Jose “Walk for Thought” is available at

2011 Walk For Thought - San Jose

Elisabeth Handler PRx Communication Strategists