ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - You may be surprised to hear that about 100,000 Minnesotans suffer from brain injuries, and it's the leading cause of death and disability among our children and young adults. This weekend, hundreds of people will raise money at “Walk for Thought” in support of those recovering from brain injuries.
Once every 23 seconds someone in this country gets another brain injury. It happened to Nicholas Grundhauser when he was in first grade. It was a simple piece of playground equipment that he fell off in the ice of winter, but it set off a lasting fire in his brain.
"It's hard because I get very anxious in school and stuff and people don't understand why I'm so hyper and stuff is harder for me and I talk a lot,” he said. “Some people don't realize that that's just the nature of what happened for me.”
It's also the nature of brain injuries. On the outside, its victims are the pictures of perfect health. But those close to them know not everything is invisible.
"It's easy to forget the injury to very easily have it slapped right back in your face, because he can go from hot to cold very quickly,” his mother Kelly Grundhauser said. “And people will go ‘it's a teenager thing because my kid does that.’ No, it’s different."
The tragedy is that this is not just Nicholas's story. Professional sports can fill an entire score card of concussions. Twins fans still remember the play that altered Justin Morneau's career; and the fight injuries that perhaps altered Derek Boogard's life.
But real life doesn't keep such scores.
"There's been a tendency to link a concussion with sports, and that's not the case,” David King, Executive Director of Brain Injury Alliance said. “You can have a concussion from a car accident; you can have a concussion from a fall. Concussion is essentially another word for a brain injury."
And that's why these volunteers are getting the word out. They're organizing the finishing touches to this Saturday’s “Walk For Thought.” It not only raises money to support families, it raises awareness about those still fighting back.
"And that's what people have to learn, we're just a little bit different, but not so far different that we can't do anything at all,” Nicholas said.
Nicholas and his family will be walking at the event organized by the Brain Injury Alliance this Saturday. It’ll take place at Battle Creek Regional Park in the St. Paul/Maplewood area. Pre-registration starts at 9 a.m. and the walk kicks off at 10 a.m.