Friday, September 27, 2013

September 2013 Update

Time has passed quickly!

A well-deserved summer. 
Hayley missed the summer of 2012.
The Fishermen's Fund has been distributed. Each of the three fishermen who rescued the three survivors and who helped John, the pilot as best they could, received almost $3,000 each!

These funds were not payment for their selfless acts, but rather an outpouring of gratitude from those in the USA. Many thanks and blessings!

Hayley has completed two semesters at CalPoly and made the Honor Roll. She has returned this fall with a full academic course load. She, in her own words, just spent the "best summer of my life" with new friends and travel.

Julia completed a very successful first year at UC Santa Barbara, and spent the summer as a surgical intern at Scripps La Jolla. Julia continues her studies this fall.

Liam has returned to high school 
and is doing well.
Hayley and one of her new 
friends in Roatan, Honduras :-)

There are always residual issues and problems, but we are becoming more aware of the gifts that yield from the darkest places.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday March 10 is the San Diego Brain Injury Foundation Walk for Recovery. Join Hayley's family and friends in the walk, or send love 
and best wishes!


A few weeks ago I was on a field trip with the Sierra Club when I noticed that some people were laughing behind our mentor's back. When I asked someone why they were laughing, he immediately responded with "Oh I guess he was in an accident and had a brain injury." Right away I responded to him by saying: "Hold up. I'm recovering from a brain injury but would you ever know? Didn't think so!" 

Needless to say, this person was speechless. In the months since my accident, I've been embarrassed and ashamed to tell people who ask that along with physical injuries, I also suffered a traumatic brain injury. You see...there's a huge stigma about brain injuries. People hear "brain injury" and automatically think  there must be something wrong with him/her...they must be slow, or deficient or helpless in some way. Before having a brain injury, I know I would have thought that. That makes me sad because I now know all brain injuries are different, and people are recovering in different ways. I'm fortunate to still have social skills and be able to get 89's on my college midterms! Sure I may need to concentrate a bit more and work a little harder but I'm still ME. I'm choosing to make the best out of what I've been given and try to understand it. 

My family and friends are participating in this walk to raise awareness, and your kind donation helps in the research to better understand brain injuries. My hope is that one day people will view people recovering from brain injuries simply as people recovering from any other injury...and we aren't victims..we are survivors! I can't thank you enough for your support… I truly believe brain injuries are just like physical injuries and you can heal from them if you're really determined. And that's my #1 goal in life right now. Thank you again for your support from the bottom of my heart!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

February 14 .... on the meaning of love. 

Here are Julia and Hayley last weekend, spending the weekend together at their respective campuses, UC Santa Barbara and 
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Both such strong young women, 
who despite their undeserved pain are still loving, forgiving, joyful, thoughtful and caring. 

On behalf of Liam, Julia and Hayley, 
Happy Valentine's Day and love to all.

14 de febrero ....  el significado del amor. 
Aquí están Julia y Hayley el fin de semana pasado, pasando el fin de semana juntas a sus respectivos campus, UC Santa Barbara y Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Mujeres tan jóvenes y fuertes, que a pesar de su dolor inmerecido todavía amorosas, alegres, perdonar, reflexivas y atentas.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Off to College

Today Julia heads off to UC Santa Barbara to begin college! Yay! She is doing well! Julia will need to take Spring semester off college for knee surgery ... everything else healing.

Hayley starts Cal Poly San Luis Obispo January 7, 2013! Yay! Some things are worth waiting for. She's volunteering at Birch Aquarium, working part-time, in Rehab sessions (Physical Therapy and Cognitive Therapy), and adjusting to LPT (Life Post-Trauma). She still has vocal cord damage and limited ankle mobility but her attitude is optimistic, she never considers worrying about her injuries and her scars. When she was told that she might have to have a spinal fusion, she said "Well, I'll handle it!" Hayley has even been asked to speak at conferences ... she is an inspiring speaker!

Last night Hayley had a vivid flashback when Gram (me) ran over a curb in a low sports car ... the car belly made a loud thump. This triggered strong anxiety and a vivid flash of sitting in the back seat of the plane, seeing the pilot's seat back in front of her and the river surface just ahead. Until now, Liam Guzman has had flashbacks (in the front seat, saw the wires, felt the airplane spinning). We were hoping Hayley and Julia would be spared, flashbacks are terrorizing.

I have had several emails about direct donations (not through PayPal) for our girls. Here is their direct deposit information for their Trust Funds that will help them with not just medical expenses, but future issues. 

Hayley E Brown Trust Fund: 
Bank of America
Acct: 164105320796
Routing: 121000358

Julia Tower:
Union Bank
Acct: 0020650338
Routing: 122000496

Thanks to everyone for their love and support.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Graduation Day (Part II) was on Saturday August 25, 2012, 
only 12 weeks following the accident. 
Do they look amazing?!

Hayley, Dr. Ruggles and Julia
Hayley and Julia both received their diplomas from Kyle Ruggles from 
La Costa Canyon High School before 80 friends, family and teachers; 
Liam, Ernie and Heidi Guzman joined us for the ceremony. 

Click the link below to watch the two best friends' 7-minute journey.

Los Tres Milagros: Hayley, Julia and Liam
Saturday August 25, 2012


Friday, August 17, 2012

It's what you do about it that counts

Gram took Julia and me to Casa Bandini for lunch because even though we might not get back to El Fuerte, México, doesn't mean we need to be off nachos and burritos! We both get around at different speeds, but in wheelchairs, we get to go to the front of lines. Most of our days are spent in therapy, but we have met some really amazing therapists.

August 25 is our high school grad ceremony from La Costa Canyon High School; we couldn't attend the official one on June 15 so our best friends, family and favorite teachers are creating a special one for us. We are so excited. It's never too late! 

A friend reminded me that it's not what happens to you that counts, it's what you do about it that matters and after the pain passes and the fog lifts, the gifts will be revealed. We know how lucky we are to be alive. So we are focusing on the good that we can do and the positive changes we can make because of this and can't wait to get started. Thank you to everyone!

Hayley (L) and Julia at Casa Bandini
Nuestra abuela nos llevó a la Casa Bandini para el almuerzo, porque a pesar de que podría no volver a El Fuerte, México, no significa que tenemos que que no puede comer nachos y burritos!

Friday, July 27, 2012


Today was a miracle day, a hard-to-believe, dream-come-true day, Hayley came home for the first time after almost two months in hospitals. She bops around by herself, just needs to drag a bit of a tube, a boot and a turtle shell around for a few more weeks. 

No words can describe the first day, and again today there are no words, other than "thank you, God." 
June 2, 2012 first night at Fatima Hospital, Los Mochis, México
July 27, 2012 Scripps Encinitas, CA
Peggy (RN), Hayley and therapist
graduating from Scripps Encinitas
Hoy fue un día de milagro. Hayley volvió a casa por primera vez después de casi 
dos meses en los hospitales.