I recently read an update on Brooke Ellison and this prompted me to write my last post: 5 Reasons We Should Volunteer. Brooke Ellison is a perfect example of a person who has truly risen above her circumstances, and volunteerism has been a huge facet of her recovery.
You see, on September 4, 1990, Brooke, a very active 11-year-old was struck by a vehicle near her home on her way home from school. The accident left her paralyzed from the neck down and dependent on a ventilator.
One of the few guarantees in life is that it will never turn out the way we expect. But, rather than let the events in our lives define who we are, we can make the decision to define the possibilities in our lives.” Brooke Ellison
Despite her physical situation, Brooke was determined to continue with her life, and continue to make a difference. After spending nearly one year in the hospital, recovering from her injuries and adjusting to her new life, Brooke returned home and focused on her education.
When Brooke returned to school, she was welcomed by friends she had missed and found an environment that allowed her to thrive. In 2000, ten years after her accident, Brooke graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, graduating with a degree in cognitive neuroscience, a combined major of psychology and biology. Brooke gave a commencement address for her Harvard graduation in June of 2000.
Since her graduation from Harvard in 2000, Brooke has worked as a public speaker, delivering the message of hope and motivation, and strength in the face of obstacles. Her audiences have been many and diverse, as she has spoken to members of the medical community, business corporations, politicians, community members, students, and nonprofit organizations, traveling across the country to do so.
I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Christopher Reeve
Although the specific message differs from audience to audience, Brooke focuses her attention on hope and motivation, using her own experiences as a vehicle to convey the message.
Brooke has “gone to bat” in many ways for those who deal with disabilities every day of their lives. She has helped countless others cope with their own life-altering challenges. “My mother tells me that helping others makes me glow, and I feel it! I feel invigorated. Where I’ve gotten over the past 20 years-and my ability to continue moving forward, living my life as fully as possible-is a direct result of what I feel I can give to other people,” Brooke says. She has made herself available to help many in similar circumstances one-on-one. The World We Want is a recent blog post penned by Brooke Ellison. There are many who struggle with this kind of adversity every day of their life, and yet, they make a conscious choice to rise above their circumstances. Read some previous Pages From Joan posts below about some of these warriors: