An epic dream, epic journey, and epic challenges; all conspired to provide a single mom and brain injury survivor with an amazing story of faith, heartache, love, survival...and grace.
Kimberly Carnevale, her daughter and dogs hit the road in 2012 in their RV on an epic journey to promote brain injury. They planned to take a year-long lap of the country in order to interview "butterflies" (followers of the tour whose lives have been touched by brain injury) and create a documentary about "Doing Life with Brain Injury." However, as is often the case in life, things didn't quite go according to plan. Follow their continuing, life-altering, and compelling journey to be inspired, enlightened, and see what life is really like LIVING with brain injury.
Former professional athlete, single mom, and brain injury survivor; Kimberly Carnevale has overcome many challenges in her life. From surviving a horrible accident just as she was about to realize her Olympic dreams, to relearning to read, write, walk, talk again, to a tragic loss which left her a single mother, to surviving a brutal home invasion/stalking which caused her to be homeless with her little girl for 4 ½ years to scratching her way back to success; this determined young woman faltered, but never wavered from the path of success that she had laid out for herself and her little girl. (You can read Kimberly's incredible back-story HERE). Never one to think small, Kimberly embarked on a new mission to give the silent epidemic of brain injury a voice, provide her little girl with a secure future, and share God's grace in their lives along the way...
Kimberly's brain injury makes it impossible to earn the income she did prior to her accident, and she has struggled financially ever since the fateful day in 1998 changed her life forever. Determined to share the story God's given her to tell, provide a STRONG voice to brain injury, and create a better life for her little girl; she set out on the road to share the stories of survivors from all over the word via her speaking engagements, share her testimony wherever she could, and film a documentary to find out how other survivors “do life” with brain injury. The documentary was to be shared with law and decision-makers to perceptively demonstrate the huge gaps that exist for brain injury survivors and their families to access the resources that survivors need; ones that many are simply not getting.
The year-long mission planned to spotlight stories of survivors from different states, different walks of life, and sharing different experiences of living with brain injury. Kimberly planned to document her entire journey via her blog to highlight how everyday life is modified in order to accommodate the daily (many times, unknown) affects of living with brain injury.
Prior to "Hitting The Road," Kimberly wrote: “I think people will be really surprised at how big an impact brain injury has on survivors—especially ones like me who ‘look fine', but struggle not just with the challenges and long-lasting of our injuries, but also with the disbelief of others who find it hard to believe that we do struggle—perhaps because we may have ‘good days,’ or that they just have a hard time believing something that they can’t see can be so devastating. There’s a big misconception out there that all disabilities are visible; but this just isn’t true. Just because you can’t see someone’s brain injury…or other hidden disability; doesn’t mean that they don’t suffer with all the challenges and pain that come with it. I plan to shatter this antiquated myth with enlightening video footage and candid blog posts, from myself and survivors all around the country, about what life is really like living with brain injury.”
“I felt led to start this tour in order to share the story that God has given me to tell. I realized that by sharing my own story, and my journey through brain injury rehabilitation and cognitive dysfunction I could help so many others who are suffering with the little-known, yet devastating effects of brain injury. I wanted to give people an inside glimpse into what life is really like living with a brain injury--and how someone who seems to "look" just fine, can be struggling (physically, mentally, and financially) in ways that one could not even begin to imagine.
I want to let law and decision-makers know how utterly frustrating and extremely difficult can be for someone who has a brain injury to seek/gain resources for their injury, and how easy it is to slip through the cracks because of lack of support and/or resources.
I want to make brain injury prevention something that is on the hearts and minds of everyone...whether they be, a parent, athlete, child, teenager, or passenger in a car. I want to share my former life as an athlete--and my current one as a brain injury survivor, so that people understand that their brain is the only one they have, and it’s critical that they take precautions to protect it.
I want to let people know that no matter what struggles come our way in life, God's grace is available to us all; and that grace can turn any tragedy into triumph.
On a very personal level, it's not my daughter's fault that I have a brain injury and lost my former earning power--and yet, she bears the brunt of it all. She endured 4 1/2 years of homelessness, and the ever-present threat of it re-occurring each time I get sick and am unable to earn the supplemental income we need in order to keep a roof over our heads. I yearn to give her the financial stability and opportunities that she deserves so that she never has to worry about her circumstances; and can instead focus on becoming all that God created her to be.
I want to be a good role model to my daughter; to show her to trust God, no matter what, to grow right where you are, and help everyone you can with what you have (be it material or otherwise).
What it all comes down to is that I started this tour because I want to make a difference.”
"Even the best of dreams are not immune to disaster..." ~Kimberly Carnevale
Imagine losing the ability to think. Imagine that you need to manually control your body each and every day, and some days, the command center refuses to help out. This is what it is like living with brain injury. This is what everyday life is like for single Mom, Kimberly Carnevale. This is her story. This is her campaign, to bring a loud voice to the "silent epidemic" of brain injury, and this is her ministry to help others (two-footed and four), through God's grace and the lessons she's learned.
Kimberly Carnevale has faced challenges that most couldn't even begin to imagine. From recovering accident survivor, to advocate, to becoming a single, disabled Mom, to becoming homeless, to nearly dying out on the open road while trying to advocate for others...and herself; and finally finding her way back to success.
Her faith, athlete training, and never-give-up determination continue to drive her, yet her definition of success is different these days. "It's not about money or fame, or about the things you have," Carnevale says. "I've been on both ends of the financial spectrum, and I can tell you with 100% certainty, that at the end of the day, when you can think back on what you've accomplished, success should be measured by making a child smile, or lifting a friend's spirit, providing hope to the hopeless and sharing with others the love in our heart...it is then that we discover that by giving to others, we are actually giving a gift to ourselves. Helping others, honoring God in all that we do, and having the ability to praise in the midst of our storms----That, is success."
Be sure to continue to follow Kimberly's amazing journey via her blog posts (links of which are located to the right of this page under "Blog Archives". You can also sign up to have new blog posts delivered to your in box via the "follow" buttons found in the side bar as well.
Kimberly's mission encapsulates the struggles of the 5.3 million people currently living with brain injury in America today. She is but one voice...but vows to raise it loud enough to shatter the silent epidemic of brain injury. Help join her voice by sharing her mission with everyone you know who has a brain.