2018 HONOREE

Alanna Seymour

Her resilience, amazing attitude and big heart make Alanna a winner in life and a deserving Honoree for the 2018 Going the Distance for Brain Injury Run.

Alanna Seymour was a typical three year-old before her traumatic brain injury… happy, playful, curious and no limits. At the time of her accident, in 1972, Alanna was living with her family (her parents and sister, Liz, five-years old) in an apartment complex in the Waldo area of Kansas City, Missouri. Alanna recalls Bingham Junior High School across the street. In the afternoons, Alanna used to enjoy watching students leaving at dismissal time, and school buses coming and going. On the day of her accident, Alanna was in her bedroom napping. The weather was beautiful on this day, and her bedroom window was open inviting the warm breeze. While Alanna lay in bed, she could hear the traffic and hustle of kids outside. She was drawn to the window and engaged in her usual activity of watching the students. Then with one unfortunate misstep, Alanna pushed against the window screen by mistake and fell through the window. She plummeted two stories and landed head first on the concrete ground.

Shortly after her fall, Alanna was discovered by a police officer approaching the building to visit a tenant. Alanna was unconscious and rushed to the hospital. The situation was very grave. Doctors did not expect Alanna to survive the night as she lay in a coma. A priest from St. Elizabeth Parrish heard about the accident and came to the hospital to perform last rites. The church also purchased a burial place for Alanna, intending to lift a burden for her parents. Grief stricken, Alanna’s family prayed day and night for a miracle. On Day 17 of Alanna’s coma, her family in desperation started treating her with Walburga’s oil, which is known for healing. Two days later, Alanna awoke from her coma—surprising even her doctors. Everyone agreed it was a miracle.

Alanna’s family was extremely thankful she survived, but her life would be forever changed. At 3.5 years old, Alanna became a “newborn” again. She had to re-learn everything including walking, talking and toilet training. Fortunately Alanna regained simple skills quickly. However, she faced extra hardships that she still lives with today—including issues with balance, eye/hand coordination, loss of peripheral vision, stuttered speech at times and a lazy eye. Alanna’s physical therapy was ongoing for 10 years following the injury. Unlike many other brain injury survivors, Alanna has always felt grateful for her young age at the time of her accident. She does not remember life before her injury and therefore has no comparisons.

Alanna recalls difficulties from childhood. She was teased and bullied at school because of her physical challenges in sports. She was uncoordinated and even basic skills, such as catching a ball, were difficult for her. When Alanna got excited about something, her words would stutter. Her lazy eye also brought unwanted attention. As a result of her differences, Alanna was shy in school and kept to herself. Learning went a little slower for Alanna than others, but once she grasped a subject, she loved it.

In Alanna’s early adulthood, she got married and went to cosmetology school. She had an incredible talent in styling hair and makeup. She was a licensed cosmetician for 20 years. In 2002, Alanna’s personal life hit its most difficult challenges. She got divorced and lost her father around the same time. She suffered from stress and anxiety, and she started taking anti-depressants to improve her condition. Alanna has worked a variety of jobs since cosmetology, but her favorite job has been working as a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA). As a CNA, Alanna found a beautiful way to serve and make a difference in the life of others.

Today Alanna finds herself in a peaceful and content place. She lives with her sister, Liz, who has been an amazing source of support throughout Alanna’s life. Liz is a behavioral health nurse and helped Alanna qualify for Permanent Disability Coverage at the age of 40 (due to frequent migraines and other physical issues). Alanna works as a part-time cashier at Price Chopper. She’s great at her job and loves her co-workers and loyal customers. She also continues as a CNA for four hours a week. She serves one elderly couple, and they have become family to her. When Alanna is not working, she enjoys spending time with a few close friends, snuggling with her beloved pets and the pleasures of Netflix television. (Crime shows are her favorite!)

Alanna is one of the most long-standing supporters of the “Going the Distance for Brain Injury Run” (formerly known as the Amy Thompson Run). In fact, Alanna was present at the very first Amy Thompson Run—31 years ago! She has been a devout participant throughout her life. She has missed a few years but is currently going on her 19th year in a row of participation. Regarding future goals, Alanna jokes about winning the lottery, or she would like to invent something (she even has a great idea). She would like to remove all of her financial burdens and pay off her sister’s home. Her sister has always been there and done so much for her. Even without a lottery win, Alanna knows how lucky she is to be here and says every day is a blessing. Her resilience, amazing attitude and big heart make Alanna a winner in life and a deserving Honoree for the 2018 Going the Distance for Brain Injury Run.