Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries

Meet Our Contributors

Richard E. Berg is an artist and advocate. He co-hosts two poetry venues in southeastern Massachusetts and competes at poetry slams in Providence and Boston. His first poetry book is due out in fall 2014. Richard speaks to organizations about the effects of brain injury on survivors and families. He is a multiple trauma and brain injury survivor.

Bonnie L. Beuth received her Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, in Information Systems and works in the learning and development field. She is a founding member of the Legal Technology Core Competencies Certification Coalition and has many pastimes, including writing and keeping up with a large group of friends.

Jon Blair has a fantastic sense of humor and can find humor in everything. He believes that humor has gotten him through a lot of his ordeal and believes having faith and humor can’t go wrong. He would like to thank Paula Schmidt and the Brain Injury Association for their support in writing this story.

Christine Blue has a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and her Master of Arts degree from CWRU. She teaches music and band in Mentor, OH, and speaks at TBI conferences about the use of music therapy as an aid in recovery. She loves her husband and daughter and enjoys reading, traveling, and listening to live music.

Dan Bornstein, who has worked for the family business in Portland, ME since 2008, uses the time that had previously been used to produce writing to now produce paintings. He thinks he’s getting pretty good too. E-mail him for more info on his work at [email protected].

Sage de Beixedon Breslin, Ph.D is a Licensed Psychologist and Intuitive Consultant. She is an accomplished author and screenwriter, generating material to inspire and touch those who have struggled with life’s challenges. Her books, stories, and chapters are available on her website at

Sandra L. Brown lives on the prairies of Saskatchewan. She has two married sons and three grandchildren of whom she is very proud. Sandra works full-time in the oil industry and enjoys paleontology, museums, hockey and writing. Her advice to anyone recovering from a head injury is to “enjoy the miracle of each new day!”

Kelly Buttiglieri received her B.A. degree with honors from Boston College in 1989 and J.D. degree with honors from Suffolk University Law School in 1994. She is married, has a fourteen-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter. Kelly has worked for the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts for eight years. She enjoys reading and gardening.

Michele Camacho, e-mail and campaign copywriter, helps results-oriented entrepreneurs get the most from every e-mail with messages that engage, enlighten as well as create stories that keeps prospects engaged. Learn more at

Joseph Caminiti has worked for Turtle & Hughes for twenty-five years. He enjoys graphic and media design, photography, and writing. Joseph volunteers for the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey and is a member of the Council for Head Injured Community, helping lobby for laws that help people with brain injuries live better lives.

Marshall Campbell was ordained to the ministry at the Historic Little Rock Missionary Baptist Church by Rev. Dr. Jim Holley in 1999. He took journalism in high school and wrote a column for the school paper. He is married with three girls. Marshall enjoys golfing, bowling and has finished his novel, a biography, Living While Black In America.

Betty B. Cantwell received her B.A. degree from University of Texas at Arlington and her MFA degree from Texas Woman’s University. Her writings have been published in Guideposts books and Christian Woman magazine. She enjoys poetry and writing for young children. She lives with her husband Don in Arlington, TX.

Paul Ceretto lives in Wisconsin with his two birds, Sonny and Boo Boo. He operates, and is dedicated to furthering his writing career and the integrity of the written word. In his second life for five and half years now, he feels five. A statement for those who know him is all too true.

Barbara Chandler is a writer, teacher, public speaking coach and non-profit fundraiser. She earned her master’s degree in speech communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Linda S. Clare is a multi-published, award-winning author of nonfiction and fiction. Her most recent release is A Sky Without Stars from Abingdon Press (2014). She lives in Eugene, OR with her husband, four grown children, two grandsons and three wayward cats.

Kim Conrad is a powerful spirit. Clients have said, “Kim Conrad is a gift! Her ability is extraordinary.” She combines her master’s in psychology, theatrical background, acute intuition, training as a Reiki Master, along with her workshops and “word-smithing” to inspire freedom at every turn. Learn more at

Kirsten Corrigan received her B.A. degree from Luther College and her M.A. degree from The University of Iowa. She retired from a career in finance to focus on being Mom to her son, Ryan. Kirsten enjoys photography, running, teaching aqua aerobics, writing, and educating others about shaken baby. E-mail her at [email protected].

Melissa Cronin holds a B.S. degree in Nursing from Boston University and an MFA degree in Creative Nonfiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives with her husband, John, in South Burlington, VT. She is working on a memoir and writes for a local newspaper. Melissa enjoys playing the Irish fiddle and riding her bicycle.

Pete Daigle is a TBI survivor who has spent much of his life since his initial recovery (i.e. ER, ICU, hospital rehab) obtaining the best life skills to enable himself, and anyone with a TBI, to live well! He is also a board member of the Brain Injury Association of Vermont and is very proactive in their support.

Holly Daubenspeck received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music, with honors, in 2012. Since then, she has undergone intensive speech, physical, occupational and other therapies as part of her healing process post-accident. She would like to complete student teaching one day and then attend grad school—perhaps in music therapy.

Stephanie Davenport is a freelance writer, mom and yoga enthusiast in central Illinois. These days she’s passionate about healthy living, her two kids and a great cup of coffee.

Prior to sustaining a TBI in 2004, Jen de Jong was a marketing director for a publishing company and wrote her first book, Generation Ex. Since her TBI, Jen has taken up quilting and blogging at She lives with her husband and son in Ohio.

Suzanne D.K. Doswell received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Western College in 1974. She and her husband live in the Berkshires and have two inspiring daughters and creative grandchildren. Suzanne continues her professional work in the brain injury field and teaches visual arts to artists with disabilities.

Murray Dunlap’s work has appeared in approximately fifty magazines and journals. His stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times, as well as to Best New American Voices once, and his first book—an early draft of Bastard Blue (then called Alabama)—was a finalist for the Maurice Prize in Fiction.

Dr. Christine Y. Durham, author of Unlocking My Brain; Through the Labyrinth of Acquired Brain Injury, shares her story of how she regained her life after brain injury to inspire others to make the best of brain injury. Christine is Victorian Senior Australian of the Year 2014 and one of BrainLink’s Women of Achievement.

Anita Dziwura received her Ph.D in Economics from Fordham University in 1990. She has three sons and lives with them and her husband, Joe, in Westchester, NY. Anita enjoys skiing, playing the violin, attending concerts, and playing hockey with her sons.

Joy Engelsman received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Calvin College and earned a Master’s of Divinity degree from Denver Seminary. She has travelled extensively, including a ’round-the-world trip with her husband and two daughters. Joy writes, speaks, coaches speakers and serves as a creativity consultant.

Jane Allen Farmer is a park ranger with the National Park Service. She works in the Interpretation and Education Division. In her free time, she visits with her two therapy dogs, plays with her two non-therapy dogs and three cats, and enjoys riding her horses.

Donna Fitzpatrick received her Associate of Arts Degree, with honors, in Journalism/Communication in 2013 from Sussex County Community College in New Jersey, graduating Phi Theta Kappa. She enjoys photography. Donna would like to dedicate this story to her family, friends and Doris T., who provided unconditional love and support.

For over a decade, Patti Foster was a radio host in Christian broadcasting. Today, she travels and shares her TBI story in the hope it will inspire others. In 2013, Patti released her biography, Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury: One Woman’s Journey from Death to Life. Patti lives her motto: M.A.D. Now! (Make a Difference Now!)

Vanessa Friedrich is a professional equestrian and native German. After recovering from a severe horse riding accident she became a therapeutic riding instructor and now teaches horsemanship skills to people with disabilities. She started her writing career with her own story about recovery. Vanessa currently lives in South Carolina.

Melissa A. Gertz received her Juris Doctor degree in 2005 from Rutgers School of Law-Newark. This year marks the tenth anniversary of her TBI, and the fifth anniversary of the non-profit, the Community Justice Center. When not working, you can find Melissa exploring new beaches and microbreweries, and of course, working with Basset Hounds.

Arlene Rains Graber is an award-winning journalist, novelist, and devotional writer in Wichita, KS. She is the author of four books. The Cape Elizabeth Ocean Avenue Society is the second novel in the Plane Tree series, and is available on Visit her at

Carolyn Graham is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has lived in Texas her entire life. She enjoys reading, writing and “not” arithmetic. She has been published in Guideposts, Angels on Earth and Mysterious Ways magazines. She spends her free time writing and hopes to one day publish a children’s book.

David A. Grant is a writer based in New Hampshire and the author of Metamorphosis, Surviving Brain Injury. David is also a contributing writer to Brain Injury Journey magazine. A survivor of a harrowing cycling accident in 2010, David openly shares his experience, strength and hope as a brain injury survivor.

Marian Green received her degree in biblical studies from Indiana Wesleyan University. Marian loves empowering women through their understanding of scripture and teaches at women’s events across the country. Connect with her at

Annette Gulati is a freelance writer living with her family in Portland, OR. She has published more than seventy-five stories, articles, essays, poems, and activities in numerous magazines and newspapers. Visit her at

Pattie Welek Hall is the author of a completed memoir, A Mother’s Dance, based on her son’s traumatic brain injury. She lives in Charleston, SC, where she hosts Joy Radio, a monthly Internet talk show with interviews of nationally renowned authors. Pattie is the mother of three grown children who are the loves of her life.

Maryanne Higley Hamilton received her BSEd-Art degree from Florida International University, and a Masters of Art Therapy degree from Vermont College. A published author, she is an art therapist at Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. She enjoys traveling, creating art, writing children’s books, and playing her clarinet in a large marching band.

Jan Heinitz is a single mother of two girls. She teaches counseling skills at a private university; many of her students are teachers who work with children who are at-risk. Jan was inspired to write about her daughter Christina’s accident and how the accident affected her family’s life.

Justine Johnston Hemmestad is a wife, mother of seven children (ages 5-21), and a writer for over twenty years. Currently she’s also enrolled in the BLS program at The University of Iowa and has taken several Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Poetry, and Playwrights Workshop courses, with a goal of one day teaching writing.

Kristen Hyde has a degree in marketing, worked as a wedding/ portrait photographer, and currently has a business scanning photos and teaching photo/memory preservation. Kristen also creates photo and family storybooks, cards and other keepsakes, and has designs featured in a catalog and as templates. Learn more at

Sarah Jenkins received her Bachelor’s of Science degree, with honors, and is pursuing a master’s degree in forensics. With love and dedication, their family has chosen to thrive and excel. Sarah is a member of Hearts of Valor, an organization created by Operation Homefront. She hopes her story inspires others to erase the hidden wounds from this war.

Johnkle used to write a lot (all unshared) before his accident. Afterwards Johnkle could not find the motivation to do so, until this story. Johnkle listens to heavy metal, formerly volunteered at a long-term care home, and loves his cat. Johnkle hopes other people can see/find the experience in this story.

Upon graduating from Johns Hopkins University at the tender age of nineteen, Larry C. Kerpelman went on to earn his Ph.D in Psychology from the University of Rochester. His career has encompassed research, teaching, and writing activities in several organizations. Now retired, he spends his time writing, gardening, and walking.

Sarah Kishpaugh earned her MFA degree in Creative Writing in 2014. She works as a creative writing teacher and freelance editor and writer. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, and She is looking for a publisher for her first book, a memoir.

Diane Kleinschmidt received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from Florida State University. She recently retired after thirty-five years working in neuro rehab. She enjoys cooking, gardening, reading, and spending time with her family including two black Labs—Lola and Stringer.

Cheryl Koenig resides in Sydney, Australia. She is happily married with two inspiring sons. She is an author, motivational speaker, caregiver. She recently received the prestigious honor of the Medal of the Order of Australia—for services to people with disabilities, their families and caregivers. Learn more at

Annette Langer, third-time Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor, combines humor with storytelling. Healing through Humor: Change Your Focus, Change Your Life! details her triumphs from brain injury to breast cancer. A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the World follows her travels to all seven continents. Visit

Catherine LeBlanc has a Bachelor of Health Sciences and Physician’s Assistant certificate from Duke University. She is a former ice hockey wing, soccer and team handball goalkeeper. Living in Cambridge, MA with her son and cat, her neuro rehab continues. She looks forward to discovering her next career.

Janna Leyde is an author and yoga teacher living in Pittsburgh, PA. Her memoir, He Never Liked Cake, tells the story of growing up with her father’s TBI. Her second book, Move Feel Think, is a guidebook of twenty yoga poses specifically designed for those living with TBI and trauma.

Sandra A. Madden, a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, is a photographer and writer, an administrative assistant at the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts (BIA-MA), and a brain injury survivor. She is in the initial phase of publishing her first book, Hearts All Around Us.

Shawn Marie Mann lives in Pennsylvania. She spends her non-writing time visiting amusement parks and day tripping with her family. Her favorite color is orange. You can contact her through her website at

Bette Matero is a retired childcare professional, the mother of three grown children and grandmother of one. She worked for over thirty years to increase the quality of childcare in Colorado, where she lived most of her adult life. She and her husband, Del, live in Arizona, where she is writing her first novel.

Dee Dee McNeil is a freelance journalist, poet, singer/songwriter and educator. She has performed as a jazz singer in over twenty countries and is a Motown Records songwriter from Detroit, MI. She writes a music blog for Her poetry book Haiku in My Neighborhood was published in 2012 with photographs by Roland Charles.

Anneli Norrland lives in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Janine L. Osburn resides in Mendon, MA with her family.

Celeste Palmer is the founder of Bridging the Gap (, a non-profit providing resources to help TBI survivors. She writes, speaks and provides life coaching to help others learn mindfulness and find their happiness. She has three children and two grandchildren, and enjoys golf, travel, knitting and swimming.

Elise Daly Parker is a writer, editor, blogger, writing coach. Married for thirty years, she is mom to four daughters, one son-in-law, and a new grandmother. She is co-founder of Elise believes that our stories matter and have power to inform, reform, and transform lives. E-mail her at [email protected].

Brittany Perry lives in the mountains of West Virginia. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, attended Concord University, and the 2007 WV’s Governor’s School for the Arts for creative writing. She likes reviewing books on YouTube, spending time with her family, and writing. E-mail her at [email protected].

Cecile Proctor is a full-time student at the University of New Brunswick and the provincial contact for the Brain Injury Association of Canada. She is working towards an honors degree in psychology with a minor in cognitive neuroscience. She plans to continue her education to join the field of neuropsychology.

Tina Rapp is a writer and editor living in southwestern New Hampshire. Her work has appeared in various venues including New Hampshire Public Radio, Yankee Magazine books, Concrete Wolf, Post magazine, Smoky Quartz, and Adanna Literary Journal. She was an editor of Shadow and Light—A Literary Anthology on Memory.

Rosemary Rawlins is the author of Learning by Accident: A Caregiver’s True Story of Fear, Family and Hope. Rosemary has written over sixty caregiving blog posts for and is a frequent contributor to the magazine, Brain Injury Journey. She is a frequent keynote speaker and advocate for the TBI community.

Donna Reeve began writing after a car accident at sixteen left her with amnesia. Through writing, she made sense of an unknown world. She continues to write for the love and healing it brings. Watch for Mirror, Mirror, her memoir about overcoming her limitations to live out a normal life with her beloved husband and two sons.

Leann Reid holds a master’s degree in special education and retired from teaching due to the effects of MS. She lives in Kansas City with her faithful companion dog, Zoey. They visit hundreds of people a year through the Pet Partners program. Her blog is She writes from experiences.

Forced into early retirement, Cheryl Richards searched for redirection and renewed passion. Writing short stories and publishing a novel based on the true events in the life of her great-grandfather, she found her passion again. She is currently working on her second novel. E-mail her at [email protected].

Heather Roach has been teaching elementary school in Tennessee since 2001. She and Henry were married in 2002. Her story was written about five and a half years after Henry’s accident in 2008 left him with a severe TBI. She hopes to encourage other caregivers of TBI survivors to rely on the Lord for guidance and to never give up.

Julie Sanderson has focused her career on helping people. She taught fifth grade before becoming a police officer. She is involved with a church camp and foster care. She now works with alcoholics on probation. Julie enjoys hiking with her dog in the woods near Lake Michigan. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jim Scott graduated in 2006 from The University of Tampa with a B.S. degree in Economics. Jim sustained a severe TBI in a car accident on July 4, 2006. Following two years of rehab, in which he relearned daily living functions, he is trying to help others through speaking and the publishing of his memoir, More Than a Speed Bump.

Michael Jordan Segal is a husband, father, social worker, freelance author (including Possible, a CD/download of twelve stories), inspirational speaker, and works at a Level I trauma center offering emotional support. He’s had many stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. To contact Mike or order his CD, visit

Richard C. Senelick, MD is a neurologist who specializes in neurorehabilitation and brain injury. He is the Medical Director of HealthSouth RIOSA (Rehabilitation Institute of San Antonio) and the Editor in Chief of HealthSouth Press. He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and The Atlantic.

Jennifer Sienes has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education. In 2007, she left teaching middle school to write full-time and has three short stories published in Inspire Faith anthology. She spends her days writing contemporary women’s fiction and partnering in her chiropractor-husband’s practice.

Sheri Siwek teaches high school English and journalism in Phoenix, AZ. Her son Richard continues his road to a successful recovery and will attend Arizona State University this fall.

Belinda Howard Smith and husband Steve reared six children in Austin, TX, and recently began a new chapter of life in the rural community of Wimberley, TX as owners of a B&B/Retreat Center. When not making beds and cooking breakfast, Belinda enjoys Bible study, crafts, scrapbooking, and writing.

Amy Soscia works as an occupational therapist with individuals who have brain injuries, mental health issues, and neurological disorders. She will graduate from Albertus Magnus College in May 2014 with an MFA in Writing. Amy is working on her first novel entitled The Frozen Game. E-mail her at [email protected].

Barbara Stahura is a writer and certified journal facilitator who guides people with brain injury and family caregivers in harnessing the power of journaling for themselves. She lives in Southern Indiana with her husband, Ken Willingham, who is thriving after a traumatic brain injury in 2003, and their cat, Goldie.

When her long career as a psychiatric nurse abruptly ended with a TBI, Helen Stewart found meaningful work as an outreach coordinator with the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts. She is the mother of three adventurous adult children. She was inspired to write this story after meeting Jenn Richardson at a contra dance.

Mike Strand continued working for Andersen Windows another twenty-four years after his accident before retiring to fulfill his dream of acquiring a B.A. degree in English Literature, which he earned in 2014. He is a writer and a wedding officiant. He and his wife Linda live in Oakdale, MN.

Dr. Sullivan received her medical degree from Michigan State University. She no longer practices due to the consequences of repetitive concussions. She is the author of Brain Injury Survival Kit, 365 Tips, Tools & Tricks to Deal with Cognitive Function Loss and does TBI/BI presentations for professionals and survivors/caregivers.

Tyler Tatasciore has since graduated from Humber College and entered the world of professional 3D art. He continues to update his work and you can see it at

Dale Taylor earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from The University of Kansas. He wrote and recorded a published folk song album, wrote two books, many chapters and numerous journal articles. With his wife, he enjoys sailboat racing, skiing, ballroom and swing dancing, and world travel for teaching and speaking.

Susan Traugh holds a master’s degree in education and has been writing award-winning books and curricula for thirty years. She has used her experience with Matthew and her two equally amazing daughters, both of whom have disabilities, to focus her work on special needs kids. Her work can be seen at

Angela Leigh Tucker survived a car crash in 2008 that killed her young husband Rich. She sustained a traumatic brain injury, and has been growing, learning and healing ever since. She has bachelor degrees in public relations and organizational communication from the University of Central Florida.

Mary Varga is a Certified Personal Trainer and Senior Fitness Instructor. She is also the survivor of a traumatic brain injury in 1997. Mary has a business leading senior exercise classes. She is a member of Louisville Christian Writers, planning to write more inspirational stories. Her son, Andrew, is seventeen years old.

Kay Ward graduated from Worcester University in England in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature with honours. She immigrated to Perth, Western Australia with her husband and two sons in 1996, where she teaches English to overseas students. E-mail her at [email protected].

Barbara J. Webster is the author of Lost & Found: A Survivor’s Guide for Reconstructing Life After a Brain Injury, Lash & Associates Publishing. This collection of “brain injury survivor wisdom” is packed with tips, tools and strategies to assist survivors in continuing their healing and rehabilitation process.

Robin Lee Rice Whittaker received her B.S. degree in Marketing from Penn State in 1985. She has two children and currently resides in Eliot, ME. For twenty years she owned and operated a successful tourist destination in Portsmouth, NH, where she pursued and applied her love of marketing and hosting local interns.

Jennifer Wiche received several certificates and a degree from the University of the Fraser Valley from 2005 to 2010. Although she can no longer become a teacher, her life will be fulfilled with the love of her daughter Serenity and her husband Ray.

Lex Wilson is a writer and actor in Carrboro, NC.

Shelley L. Woodward graduated from law school at Washington University in St. Louis in 1986. She practiced law until June 2012, when she moved to Evansville, IN to be near family. She plans to do more writing in the future.

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