Forging friendship through tragedy after a brain injury
A remarkable friendship is developing between two people brought together by tragedy.
Both have acquired brain injuries.
Now one is helping the other realize her dream of coming home.
In their early 20’s, both of these young people should be juggling school and social activities.
Instead, tragic accidents have changed the course of their lives.
And, in doing so, brought them together.
There is an undeniable bond between the two friends; Dylan White, 22, and Danica Tofflemire, just shy of that. Their bond has been built upon a friendship forged through tragedy.
Two years ago this week, Danica and her father Troy were involved in a horrific head-on crash on Highway 17. Her father was killed and Danica was left with multiple injuries to her body and her brain.
“Her brain injury was so substantial,” says Danica’s mother Cheryl Tofflemire, “that they prepared us that she would be in a vegetative state. She wasn’t expected to walk, talk or feed herself.”
Danica has been at Saint Vincent's for more than a year and hard work has paid off.
A few weeks ago she started speaking, singing along today with her mother to Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild.”
She has also regained some muscle strength. But her journey is far from over.
Dylan's accident happened after a fall from a grain elevator in 2015. He plummeted 60 feet to the ground, fracturing even his eye sockets.
The brain injury has been slowest to heal but this determined young man defied all odds and walked out of Saint Vincent Hospital several months ago to continue his path to recovery at home.
“I'll tell you something,” says Dylan’s father John White, “The soul and determination in an individual is remarkable because that's what makes it all worthwhile.”
Now Dylan is back at Saint-Vincent, determined to help others like him and that's how he met Danica.
“They both understand that life has changed and that now they have to work and get better,” says John, “and we hope Dylan gathers strength from Danica and Danica gathers strength from Dylan.”
In fact, it was partly Dylan's idea that the annual Ride for Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) be in Danica's honor this year.
“They did it for me,” Dylan says. The ride was held in Dylan’s honor last year, “And now it’s her turn.”
The goal is to help Danica and her mom realize their dream of bringing Danica home.
“This year, we decided to do the ride for Danica,” says Sonia “Vixen” Morin, the organizer of the Ride for ABI, “We will have a beautiful ride for her and raise some money and raise awareness for ABI.”
For Danica’s mother, the money raised during the ride will help offset expenses for a vehicle and for accommodations to their home that will need to be made when Danica comes home. The support from the motorcycle club and from Dylan and his parents, Cheryl says, is overwhelming.
“Just having someone who has experienced all this really helps,” she says, “someone who is going through it because I’m really going through it alone without my husband.”
The motorcyle Ride for ABI will be labelled Danica's Journey this year.
It begins April 28th in St. Albert at 9:30.