You can’t always recognize when people have Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). That’s what I learned from Causes.com leader Saul Raisin. Saul is the founder of Raisin Hope Foundation – an organization he started to provide support to traumatic brain injury victims across the country. Raisin Hope Foundation has raised more than $250,000 to fund traumatic brain injury programs across the country, including advocating for TBI victims to be granted points on their higher education applications for acceptance. With more than 4,000 members on Causes, Saul has gained tremendous support from people all over the world. His next challenge? Saul wants to finish an Iron Man competition.
Saul’s story is the embodiment of resilience. A 23-year-old professional American cyclist, Saul was one of the youngest team leaders riding in the U.S. On April 4, 2006, he went out for a tune-up ride for the Tour d’Italy. “I slipped on some gravel, crashed, and hit my head. Doctors performed emergency surgery and I went into a coma for six days.” A hole on the left side of his brain left Saul partially paralyzed and the prognosis was bleak. His parents were ready to begin the process regarding donating his organs.
Miraculously, Saul woke up. “I’m what you’d call a walking and talking brain injury.” To be blunt, doctors told Saul less than one percent of brain injury victims who’ve suffered an injury like his make a recovery of any kind.
In the span of a month, Saul jumped on a bicycle again. After four months, Saul was riding 600 miles a day and he began gathering support to organize a charity ride. [Ed note: Yes. 600 miles. You read that correctly!] “I remember thinking, ‘If I ever live a normal life again, I’d like to get back and help people like me.’” This was the beginning of Raisin Hope Foundation.
To date, more than 4,000 members have joined Saul’s Raisin Hope Foundation network on Causes.com. He recently published a book about his life and hopes that people with Traumatic Brain Injuries will find the strength to tell their own stories.
Currently, Saul’s focus is on running the 2012 Kona Iron Man competition in Kona, Hawaii to raise more awareness and grow his community. “It’s my dream to be the first documented brain injury survivor to complete the Iron Man competition in Hawaii. When you see [people with TBI], you don’t see a disability. People only think of someone with a disability when they are missing a leg. But I have trouble opening my left hand; you don’t see my disability.” By documenting his journey, Saul believes he’ll remind TBI victims that, with the help and support of an educated community, they too can achieve their dreams.
We’ll be cheering for you, Saul!