BJ Williams doesn’t remember much about the truck crash that nearly cost him his life. But he does know that he was not wearing a seat belt. “One of the few times in my life I didn’t wear one,” he says now, matter-of-factly, five years later.
Back then, BJ was a junior hockey star and professional prospect. But the impact of the incident that night on the Massachusetts Turnpike permanently dashed those hopes. Williams’ brain injury cost him his sense of smell and part of his sight, and led to six months of painstaking rehabilitation and slow physical recovery. Like many who endure a traumatic brain injury, today BJ Williams shows no outward signs of what he has been through. However, when he recounts the circumstances of his crash, the scars, though not visible, are apparent to the listener.
Like all the members of The Safety Institute’s Survivors Network, BJ has gone through the physical and emotional trauma that results from a life-altering injury event. When you are a young man in your early 20s seemingly destined for athletic greatness and the corresponding lifestyle, it is more than cruel to have it all taken away in a moment.
BJ will tell you that life is not a Lifetime movie of the week. There was no moment of epiphany when he up and decided to stop mourning his fate and to dedicate the rest of his life to helping other TBI survivors. The process was more gradual, and cumulative.
But the happy ending to this story is that BJ Williams did make it, and today he serves as outreach coordinator for the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts, assisting those families whose lives have been upended by head injuries. And while he no longer plays hockey, BJ does compete in marathons and road races. He even hosts his own event, proceeds from which, appropriately, benefit the Brain Injury Association.
This fall, BJ is marrying a woman whom he did not know before his injury, but with whom he intends to build a lasting, loving family moving ahead. He has survived, and used his experience to assist others, the essence of what our Survivors Network is all about.
Check out BJ’s Survivor Story and to learn more about his journey.