The Brain Injury Association of NSW is the peak advocacy organisation for people affected by brain injury in NSW – including people living with a brain injury, their family members, friends, professionals, and the broader community. Their purpose is to see all people living with a brain injury enjoying equal rights and opportunities within their community.
The dedicated BIA NSW team runs a wide spectrum of activities from systemic and individual advocacy, to learning and development, to individual advice and, with the brokerage program, specific financial assistance. However, in today’s modern world, perhaps their most difficult task is to simply raise awareness and greater understanding of this hidden disability. To this end, in September 2014, the Association will launch a challenging mountaineering expedition to Western Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc.
The expedition aims to raise awareness of brain injury in Australia and much needed funds for the Association to continue to reach and assist as many people and their families affected by brain injury across New South Wales as possible.
Each of the four Summit Team members has a lived experience of brain injury – either their own brain injury, or that of a family member or a person they have supported.
Paul Raciborski and Will Elrick both live with the daily reality of a brain injury. For each of them, the Mont Blanc climb marks their triumphant return to mountaineering. For Paul, this comes more than a decade after a rockfall during a training exercise on Mount Cook left him in a coma with a fractured skull. And for Will, this expedition will put to rest the demons that have haunted him since equipment failure caused him to retreat near the summit of Cho Oyu.
The remaining two members of the Summit team are mountaineering novices, but have a long history of caring for people with a brain injury. All four have been undertaking an exhausting training program since the start of the year in order to attempt the assault on the summit of Mont Blanc.
Paul Raciborski commented, “Living with a brain injury can be like climbing a mountain. Every day can feel like a long, slow, uphill trudge. Some days the terrain seems steeper than others, but it’s always uphill. From the outside, no-one else can see these hidden mountains.”
You can find out more about the impacts of brain injury and follow the trials and tribulations of the summit team as they prepare for their September climb by visiting www.brainchallenge.me or make a donation at www.mycause.com.au/events/montblancchallenge. Or go further in helping us to raise awareness by taking a challenge of your own.