It's always sunny when Summer is around
After COVID shut us in our homes for what felt like months on end, we all looked forward to Summer arriving if, for no other reason, because we could be outside in the sun and warmth. It was something we all looked forward to. For AHIF, Summer came early because, when we switched our support groups to Zoom, we all had the pleasure of meeting Summer…and we all look forward to seeing her and her warmth, just like we do the season she is named after.
Summer is 23 years old, and sustained a traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury in a car accident in June of 2015. Her injury left her paralyzed on the right side of her body, with memory issues from her TBI, and initially she was told she would never see again. Her recovery has been, and continues to be, a reflection of her fighting spirit, and that of her mother, Anita. Despite the many physical and cognitive effects of her injury, Summer and her family communicated to AHIF early on that, more than anything, she has struggled with feeling alone and not having many friends following her injury. We were immediately interested in trying to find socialization opportunities, but with no “in-person” support group nearby the opportunities were limited…and then came COVID-19.
Summer began attending our Zoom support groups. Like most of us…she began a little uncertain of herself, and the meeting platform, but after a few sessions she began to open up and let her light shine. She is now one of the leaders in our group, and her encouragement to others, her positive outlook, her love of music and her sharp wit in poking at other attendees but in a fun and delightful way, means that everyone looks forward to Summer!
Summer was also the champion, and defended her title to win again, in our two competitions of Beat ShAHIFazam…a “name the song” competition based on the TV Game Show Beat Shazam! Summer could not be beaten!
When the University of Alabama and AHIF began discussing the possibility of a 13-week music therapy clinical for Fall 2020, Summer was one of the first people who came to mind. AHIF was able to put together a group of five young women, all strong and confident, and all survivors of a TBI, SCI or both. For weeks, these women have come together with students and faculty from the UA Music Therapy program, and focused on how music can help deal with stress, anxiety, loneliness and other therapeutic benefits. As wonderful as this program has been, perhaps the greatest benefit has been that, as everyone logs on to our Zoom support groups, you can tell a bond has formed with these women, as they greet each other, support each other, and have found friendship in a time when few thought it possible.