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March 9, 2011 / Mark Kerrigan

‘Central Park Jogger’ to Speak at 2011 Brain Injury Conference

Trisha Meili, the “Central Park Jogger” is slated to speak as keynote for the statewide Brain Injury conference hosted by the Brain Injury Association of Tennessee on March 11.

The Brain Injury Association of Tennessee is proud to present for the 22nd annual state-wide conference on March 11th, keynote speaker and author Trisha Meili—The Central Park Jogger.

“The Brain Injury Association of Tennessee will be hosting our 22nd conference this year to fulfill our mission to ensure hope and support by providing brain injury prevention, awareness, education, and advocacy to survivors and their families,” Pam Bryan, Executive Director of BIAT, said.

Although the conference is geared for survivors, family members, caregivers and professionals, it is open to the public. Meili will talk about her experience as a TBI survivor and will provide strength and inspiration for others in similar situations.

“Also this [conference] is to provide information to service providers who work with individuals with brain injuries and their families,” Bryan said.

In addition to Meili, the conference will provide an excellent venue for vendors or other exhibitors who want to showcase their goods for the brain-injured community.

Rehabilitation centers, handicapped van accessories and a variety of other programs to assist in survivors’ re-entry into society will be on hand to provide beneficial information to survivors, service providers and families of survivors.

On April 19, 1989, Trisha went for a run in New York’s Central Park shortly after 9 PM. Hours later, two men wandering the park found her near death from a brutal beating and rape. In a coma, with 80 percent blood loss, a traumatic brain injury and severe exposure, doctors at Metropolitan Hospital worried that this young woman might not survive.

After the attack, Trisha spent 7 weeks in Metropolitan Hospital in New York City for acute care. She was then transferred to Gaylord Hospital in Connecticut for 5 months of rehabilitation.

Her story has encouraged people worldwide to overcome life’s obstacles – regardless of what they might be – and get back on the road to life.

“I am very excited to speak at the annual Brain Injury Conference! I want to share my message of hope and possibility with brain injury survivors, their families and service providers who live in Tennessee,” Meili said.

“I love the Conference title, ‘The Road to Hope,’ because hope is critical to survivors and families. My comments really align with the title because my recovery has shown me that with love and support there is hope. And from hope, possibility emerges no matter how dire the situation. To me, this is what keeps life moving forward,” Meili said.

“The best part is that the Conference includes topics that keep hope alive,” she said.

In 1983, when medical technology improved and people began surviving traumatic brain injuries in much greater numbers, head injury awareness was still new to public policy discussions. A group of concerned family members and volunteers decided to create the first head injury organization in Tennessee; thus the East Tennessee Interest Group on Traumatic Brain Injury, Inc. was born.

Keeping with the true volunteer spirit of Tennessee, the new organization was led by volunteers whose focus was to increase awareness of head injury issues. In 1988, the name became the Tennessee Head Injury Association (THIA), changing again in 1995 to the Brain Injury Association of Tennessee (BIAT).

In 1993 a part-time staff person was hired, and the organization’s primary focus became the improvement in the quality of life for brain injury survivors and their families. In addition, BIAT rallied their support group members from across the state and petitioned the Tennessee General Assembly to establish a brain injury program within state government.

BIAT’s Mission:

The primary mission of BIAT is to provide ongoing information, support and referral services to survivors of traumatic brain injury, their families and the public. The membership is comprised of people with brain injuries, their families and friends, and service providers who are working together to provide education, advocacy and support for those affected by brain injury.

The Brain Injury Association of Tennessee is a 501(c)3 non-profit, statewide organization overseen by a board of directors.

BIAT is located in the same building as the Tennessee Disability Coalition on Woodland Street. For further information, please contact the office at 615-248-2541 or their website at


One Comment

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  1. business / Mar 19 2011 5:03 pm

    There are many challenges for professionals with who work with patients suffering from a brain injury. A one day conference for therapists in the Tennessee area will highlight some of those demands and take a look at different rehabilitation methods.The fifth annual Intermountain Brain Injury Conference will be held on Friday April 1 at the Doubletree Hotel in Johnson City.

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