Teach Believe Inspire Award – Nicole Wight

Nicole Wight - Teach Believe InspireThis month, our Teach Believe Inspire award goes to Nicole Wight, a TBI caregiver who personifies the definition of motherhood with her selfless endurance and advocacy on behalf of her children.

The inner strength and courage displayed by Wight since a tragic car accident altered the course of her life is truly inspirational. She pressed on and learned a new way of life because she had to for the sake of her children.

In the process, she continues to educate others about living with family members who have sustained a traumatic brain injury.

The Summer Everything Changed

In 2006, Nicole Wight’s children Mackenzie and Michael spent the summer living with their grandparents. In August, returning from a fun day at Chuck E. Cheese, their car was hit by a truck, causing a serious multi-vehicle accident which sadly killed Wight’s mother and left her two children with serious injuries, including trauma to the brain. 

Mackenzie suffered an open skull fracture and a fractured collarbone. Michael suffered a more serious brain injury known as “sheering,” where nerves were severed causing a decrease in neurological and motor functions.

This was the beginning of a new life for Wight and her family. Her husband Aaron Wight, a soldier on deployment in Afghanistan, was immediately flown back to the states to be with his wife and children. Both children were treated at Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside, N.J.

Mackenzie was able to go home after nearly a month in the hospital. Michael’s injuries were far more severe, as he remained in the hospital for about four months, undergoing coma stimulation and intensive therapy to be able to start breathing on his own.

New Children

During this time, Wight first held out hope that Michael would wake up from the coma as the boy she knew before the accident. Understandably, her family and friends said over and over that he would be fine when he wakes up, as they tried to comfort her the only way they knew how.

As they waited for Michael to improve, a nurse broke the news to Wight: most of the time in these scenarios, the child does not wake up as the person they were before the accident. The nurse helped Wight realize that she needed to prepare herself for the probable reality that lay ahead.

When Michael came home from the hospital, he was not the same boy. But he was still Nicole’s son, and she loved him more than ever. She began the process of learning how to care for a special-needs child.

Though she often felt alone, she pressed on. She would see mothers with special-needs children who were born with an ailment, but her case was different. Her children were four and six, and everything changed for them in the blink of an eye. This was the fact of life with which she had to come to grips.

Her ability to not only understand her new situation, but become an advocate for families with special-needs children and families dealing with a traumatic brain injury to a loved one, is why Wight deserves recognition.

Life Lessons

Wight has learned many things about the loss of a loved one, the way traumatic brain injuries can change lives and how one must deal with the emotions and struggles a tragedy imposes upon a family. It’s her way of relating her experiences to others and teaching other families about life with special-needs children that sets her apart from the crowd. She knows what she heard from friends and family after the accident, as well as what she wishes she would have heard. This is what makes Wight a valuable resource for those lucky enough to learn from her experiences as a mother.

The Wight children meet President ObamaBecoming involved in the process of making educational and extremely relatable videos for the website brainline.org, Wight is helping other families go through the process she has gone through. Her short videos help parents see that they are not alone. She gives practical tips and invaluable insight into the world of parenting a child with special needs — specifically one who has sustained a traumatic brain injury.

In one video, Wight tells the story of the fateful day in 2006 that changed her life forever. In another, she talks about Michael “waking up” for the first time since the accident and what an important moment it was. People who watch these videos can learn a great deal about the process of parenting a child who has undergone a traumatic brain injury. They can also learn up-to-date tips on ways to help their child, as Wight’s video “Using Technology as a Learning Tool for Kids with Brain Injury” shows. In it, Wight relates her academic goals for Michael, her expectations for his reading skills and how she nurtures them, as well as how special technology like iPads can help her son. Michael seems to have a natural ability when it comes to technology, and it would seem helpful for other parents to know there should be no limits imposed on children with special learning needs. They must be treated like their peers whenever possible.

One need only look to the “comments” section of the web pages containing Wight’s videos to understand just how much she is helping other families. One comment under the “Using Technology” video shows someone who has been in comas agreeing with Wight about the importance of using math and word apps on a computer and how helpful they can be. A commenter on the video, “Grieving Your Loss and Loving Your ‘New’ Children,” wrote the following about Wight’s words in the video:

“This is probably the most difficult, yet most powerful advice that the caregivers of TBI survivors receive.”

An Undefeated Spirit

Nicole Wight has not let the terrible 2006 accident crush her spirit. On the contrary, it may have been the tragic car accident that allowed her to become the mother she was meant to be. Watching the videos she has made for Brainline, one sees a mother who will do anything for her children, a mother who is living life with a smile and who knows that hard work and perseverance are sometimes mandatory to get through life’s tests. What she might not know is how many people’s lives she has touched, how many parents now know what to expect and who now have someone in their corner after watching her videos and reading her story.

Wight shows us there is nothing stronger than a mother’s love, and when things don’t go as planned, we must learn, love and carry on.

We at the Brain Injury Law Center are inspired by Nicole Wight’s story, and are very pleased to highlight her story with our Teach Believe Inspire award.

 Get the Help You Need

If you need help in a case of traumatic brain injury, there’s no better resource than the Brain Injury Law Center. Give us a call, or fill out the contact form on the right-hand side of this page.

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