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Support a real-life superhero

Local nonprofit launches campaign to benefit state's brain injury community

BEST Executive Director and veteran, Gloria Kragel (right) and BEST Founder and veteran, Penny Condoll in their “superhero garb” at the WA State TBI Conference April 2015. Courtesy photo

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The statistics are sobering.

It is estimated that over 145,000 people in Washington state are living with brain injury-related disabilities; this number is based on hospitalizations.

That is not the full story, though.

The numbers increase for those people who are not hospitalized or who are not initially diagnosed with brain injury.

Clearly, there are a large number of people living in the state that are impacted by traumatic brain injury.

For many, these injuries impact their lives and the lives of their families, forever.

One local organization is taking these difficult statistics and doing something about it in the most unique and profound way.

The Brain Energy Support Team (BEST), is a 501c3 nonprofit organization headquartered in University Place, Washington, that provides support, advocacy, awareness, educational and socialization opportunities to people with a brain injury and their families. The organization was founded in 2008 by Penny Condoll, an Army veteran and medical social worker, who acquired her own brain injury as the result of a car accident.  Concerned and frustrated by the lack of resources Condoll experienced during her recovery, she, along with other survivors, their families and community supporters, formed BEST to provide these resources and change the face of brain injury.

Today, BEST provides support to approximately 70 brain injury support groups in Washington state and offers a wide variety of tools, resources, peer support and educational programs to both the veteran and civilian communities.

At BEST, participants and their families are considered real-life superheroes for their determined spirits to live the best lives possible and recognize their new found goals and dreams.

That is why BEST is pleased to announce a new campaign to help support their mission forward.

Beginning Nov. 30 and running through Dec. 4, people will have the opportunity to make an online $5 donation to support and give a virtual high-five to the BEST superheroes. The #5forsuperheroes campaign aim is simple: increase brain injury awareness, showcase the accomplishments of the brain injury community, and to give the public an easy and affordable option to help.

BEST Executive Director and Air Force veteran, Gloria Kraegel, explains.

"BEST was created by individuals with brain injury for individuals with brain injury, and by extension, their families and caregivers," said Kraegel. "It's who we are. We believe that with support and opportunity, those with brain injury can achieve their dreams and enjoy a quality of life they might not have thought possible.

We started the superhero campaign for two reasons. First, because it touches every facet of who a person is and what they can accomplish. We know that everyone with a brain injury and everyone who loves and cares for them are superheroes. Second, we know what it takes to walk in those shoes and we are committed to not only raising awareness, but changing the conversation. That's what we do BEST."

To contribute to the campaign, donors can visit brainenergysupportteam.org/donate-now/ to make a fast and secure donation online. To learn more about BEST and the campaign, visit them online at brainenergysupportteam.org.

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