2015 Amy Thompson Honoree David Haydon
David Haydon, 2015 Amy Thompson Run for Brain Injury, is a survivor of a traumatic brain injury whose story is nothing short of a miracle. His perseverance, strength, and unwavering faith are what make David such a deserved honoree and an inspiration to others.
Prior to David’s injury, David was living “the American Dream” as a successful attorney with a loving wife, Gigi and daughter, Merrill, a thriving high school student. David, a Kansas City area native, attended the University of Kansas as an undergraduate and received a law degree from the University of Virginia.
With strong analytical skills and a knack for negotiating, David found contract law to be a good fit and spent the first part of his career as a transactional attorney at Kansas City-based law firms. His methodical mind, attention to detail and passion to always do what’s right earned David the trust and respect of his clients and colleagues. Eventually David’s curious nature and quest to try new things led him away from the firm environment, joining Farmland Industries and conducting international business in places such as Mexico, China and the Caribbean. Ultimately, David returned to his roots joining Levy Craig law firm, where he was employed when he was injured.
On January 23, 2013 while David was walking back to his office downtown from lunch with a colleague, a speeding car ran a red light. Both men were hit hard; David, injured far worse than his colleague, flew almost 30 feet crashing head first into a nearby building. The outcome was catastrophic. Rushed in an ambulance to the hospital, paramedics had to intubate David to keep him alive. David was rushed into surgery. His neurosurgeon removed two parts of David’s skull allowing his brain to swell, a vital step in surviving a massive head injury.
Meanwhile, David’s wife, Gigi entered a world of shock that lasted for months. At the hospital, Gigi was told by the neurosurgeon that David would not survive the night or would be unrecognizable from the person he was and would never work again. Miraculously, David beat the odds and survived the first 24 hours after the accident, and was transferred to the neuro unit at K.U. Medical Hospital.
It took David about 5-6 days to begin showing even the smallest signs of response, such as a reflex or twitch. After two weeks, David finally “awakened” and to the relief of his family, started answering simple questions such as his wife’s name or where he lived. During this time, Gigi recalls being immensely thankful for the tremendous outpouring of support from their loved ones, as David required constant supervision. Family members and close friends would visit around the clock and take shifts watching over David to make sure he didn’t unintentionally harm himself. In this phase, David would often be very confused and agitated, a common side effect of brain injury.
Eventually, David was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital in Lincoln, NE to begin the recovery process. It was March 6, when he finally understood and could comprehend who he was and what happened to him. David remembers other milestones such as when he said, “I love you” to his daughter for the first time since the accident and when he could actually see with his own eyes again.
David’s injuries impacted the executive function area in addition to language, vision and hearing areas of the brain. Despite this news, David persevered, never losing hope or giving up, always ready to learn and always willing to work.
After nine weeks, David was released for home and reunited with his family. He has continued rehabilitation locally and is still improving every day. The greatest challenges he faces are hearing and vision loss and word retrieval issues, but he still strives to learn and progress. He currently is exploring options in advanced cognitive rehabilitation.
David and his wife look back on the past two years and can’t imagine how they would have made it without the remarkable outpouring of support from their loved ones. They are forever thankful for everyone involved in David’s recovery. He faces each day with determination and resilience and accepts that the recovery process is not a sprint and there is no timeline. He has learned to take life as it comes, one day at a time, one week at a time–with faith and fortitude.
Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City (BIAKS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for those affected by brain injury.
MEMORIAL DAY RUN
The first Memorial Day run was held in 1988 honoring Amy Thompson, a young woman whose courage, forgiveness and will to live gave hope to all affected by brain injury.