My name is Alicia Murie. I am director of TBI Raiders. The mission of the organization is to help students and young adults who have sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) succeed at their dreams in both school and life. This is a volunteer service not just for students and young adults who have sustained a TBI but for students who live with and without other disabilities as well. This is a truly unique opportunity with so many potentials ready to come from it. But you are probably wondering why I would say this.
Well you see I am someone who has lived with a Left-Right Traumatic Brain Injury since November 22, 97. I’ve been fortunate enough to recover to where you aren’t able to tell anything is wrong with me. When I entered college it hadn’t been two years since I had nearly died in an automobile accident in which I had been broadsided at sixty miles per hour. Even back in my recovery when I was in the hospital I knew I wanted to help others who like me wanted to build something which would bridge everyone together. Through my recovery then when I returned home and went to college, it flabbergasted me at how little people knew about my disability when it affected so many people every year. Something had to be done and I figured I start doing something about it.
So the summer of 2001 I created A TBI’s Corner online and became a member of several message boards online as well as began talking to other survivors. I began talking to one survivor who lived in Illinois. From that I created TBI Raiders, in January of 2002; this was to be an online club for students who had sustained a TBI. TBI is for Traumatic Brain Injury. Raiders are also the mascot for Rose State College, my alma mater. I decided on Raiders because that is what the online club would be doing, raiding coast to coast to educate others about Traumatic Brain Injury. You might be wondering why a sports themed name. I wanted those of us living with a Traumatic Brain Injury to have something to call ‘our own’. I wanted TBI Raiders to be something that survivors could really call their own.
As I began developing the websites and message board, my friends at Rose State College who like me were student leaders nicknamed what I had created as an ‘online city’. I developed a web ring to start bridging together websites dedicated to Traumatic Brain Injury. I also grew to love researching and writing papers that had do with the subject matter of Traumatic Brain Injury. I didn’t really begin to see the need to develop TBI Raiders into something more until July 2004 when I had traveled to Washington D.C. to represent Oklahoma Youth with Disabilities at the National Youth with disabilities Leadership Conference. I remembered the misconceptions I had about disabilities and came to see and hear the misconceptions others had about disabilities but I wasn’t able to pull things together until I really heard the misconceptions youth with disabilities had about those who weren’t disabled.
I wanted to fix this. How could we expect those in politics to really change and help those with disabilities if we weren’t trying to do something ourselves to change it, so when I had returned to Oklahoma, I chose to turn TBI Raiders into a volunteer service, a volunteer service for students living with and without a Traumatic Brain Injury. So when I came back to Oklahoma I started thinking about how to make this opportunity different. I began thinking about why I created TBI Raiders in the first place. I wanted a supportive network for TBI survivors. But how could I expect to really see any changes if I didn’t try myself to do something about it? So when I returned to school and was studying Health Physical Education and Recreation, I also spent time researching opportunities that existed and looked to see what was missing from the equation.
I had a website up and running as well as a name for the service and a mission statement. I just needed to think of the opportunities to offer. Easy…
· Gain skills needed for the workforce
· Learn leadership skills
· Interact with state and congressional leaders for Oklahoma
· Educating others about Traumatic Brain Injury and the potentials/realities of survivors
· Improving their communities
· Improving the schools they attended
Then I started thinking of the volunteer positions that should exist and the committees that this would need. The whole entire time I was doing this I was staying politically active. Then on December 29, 2004 when I was talking to former state representative Danny Morgan, he had asked me to write a paper on disabilities. So I did but I focused the paper on Traumatic Brain Injuries to show what a portion of those with disabilities experience. I had an introduction page along with a section on education, employment, and social security income. I spent a month researching and putting the paper together. Around that time I had created Survived to Vote. At first it only applied to Traumatic Brain Injuries until I came to understand my disability better.
The summer of 2005 I made another trip to D.C. but this time as a representative for the National Youth Leadership Network at the Easter Seals Celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I learned so much from that event. It made me feel like what I was trying to accomplish was that much more important. I became that more determined to get something done. After I had returned home, just like the previous summer I wrote a report on the conferences and how Oklahoma could benefit from what was covered. I sent that report to many of the elected officials for Oklahoma.
As time passed and I would talk to Traumatic Brain Injury survivors, there was an interest in turning TBI Raiders into a non-profit organization. I started to research how to become a 501©3 organization and all the steps for creating a non-profit organization that were involved. As 2006 came around, I was living on my own and devoting close to 24/7 of my time on TBI Raiders. In May of that year I along with Dr. Ruth Azarados were recognized through Oklahoma House Resolution Bill 1126. It was unanimously passed to where it recognized volunteers who helped those who had sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury in their recovery. Then the following September I spoke before the Health and Human Resources committee for the Oklahoma House of Representatives when they did a study on Traumatic Brain Injury.
I would go to college fairs to recruit students for TBI Raiders. I had even listed TBI Raiders on volunteermatch.org. Even though when I was on campuses no one would get back in touch with me about becoming involved, Oklahoma State University is where I would always have the most positive feedback. When I started the newsletter I eventually wanted a sports section. I contacted the The O’Colly at Oklahoma State University about putting some sports articles in the newsletters, they agreed to let me and I gave credit to them naturally.
In the long run I’ve done a load of things no one would have expected a survivor of a near fatal car accident to accomplish. I want to give back to those who’ve helped me get to where I am today. I may not have the energy or endurance I once had, but I am determined enough to show others how I built everything up so the legacy can continue on. I need your help with reaching out to students who have sustained a TBI. I can only do so much on my own. By doing so you will be showing traumatic brain injury survivors that you do care.
I would like to build student organizations for the organization and I want the first student organization for TBI Raiders I would very much like to start at Oklahoma State University. This is where, if and when I am able to, I would like to finish my Bachelor’s Degree at. Below is the contact information for TBI Raiders and the websites: