ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — This Saturday at 10 a.m., four different “March On for Brain Injury” walks will take place across the state, including one in Rochester. You can also participate in the walk virtually, and register here. The walk is meant to show solidarity, bring support, and bring awareness to traumatic brain injury.

Kaiti Pierce, who has been with the March On for Brain Injury and the Brain Injury Association of New York for years, talked about the program at News 8 today. Kelly Thune, who suffered a traumatic brain injury herself, is being honored at the event for her own efforts.

Kaiti, talk to us about this walk and how you got involved in it.

I actually got involved back in the early 2000s. My dad was brain injured in 1997, and unfortunately, was never able to go back to work. So his volunteering through the organization really gave him a lot of meaning. It let him connect with other people that were going through the exact same thing. We were referred to the actual local support group here in Rochester, the Brain Injury Association. So we became involved really heavily that way, got more involved as a family in you know, the greater organization of New York State.

Kaiti’s dad, Frank

And after my dad passed in 2008, I decided, you know, why don’t we get more involved and find a way to give back that way, and kind of make sure that people in Rochester know that there is a New York State Association and they’re here to help everyone in the whole state.

Kelly Thune is being honored at this event. Kelly, you had a severe brain injury in 2017 that really changed your life, can you give us a sense of that injury and how that informs what you do now as an educator and a person?

Yes, you just don’t know how your life can change in a matter of seconds in 2017. While I was worse, as a school administrator, I was injured while at work and suffered a significant concussion, which for about 90% of people, the symptoms are transient and last days, or maybe even a couple of weeks. But for me, and about 10% of others symptoms lasted for weeks, months, and for me, years.

It changed the trajectory of my career as a school administrator, I decided that I was going to treat this as positively as possible. So through the use of assistive technology and listening to as much as I could, because it was very difficult for me to be able to read with impaired vision I published ended up publishing a book called “Sisu,” and “Sisu” is a Finnish word that means to have perseverance, integrity, and tenacity when faced with life’s most significant challenges. And this word I drew upon, at a time when I was at my lowest. And since time, I have been able to write a curriculum and help others that also face traumatic brain injury. So this weekend, I’m humbled and honored to be able to, to spread the word that even when things happen to you that you can persevere, you can stay positive, and you can overcome.

And it just happens to be on my birthday on Saturday.