“October 16, 2010 was the worst night of our lives” Donna, Bobbi-Jo’s mom painfully recalls, “We got a call at 9:30pm saying that we had to come fast: Bobbi-Jo had been in an accident.” Bobbi-Jo was taken to a hospital near her home community of Tignish, Prince Edward Island (approximate population of 1000). The motor vehicle accident was major. Bobbi-Jo, an amazing and beautiful high school student, was ejected from the car that she was riding in. Her mother, Donna, is able to recall how long and hard the staff at Alberton Hospital worked on her daughter before she would be transferred to various larger facilities. It was not until December 9, 2010 that she was medically stable enough to return to PE. As Donna and Joey painfully recount, damage was sustained to Bobbi-Jo’s aorta, liver, and kidneys. Her lungs collapsed, her foot was badly crushed and she suffered very severe brain damage. Donna recalls being told, shortly after the accident, that “the way she is now is going to be it”.
On May 13, 2010 Bobbi-Jo had written on her facebook “Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it. “ Children learn what is modeled for them: Donna and Joey have never given into the notion that what you see is what you get. Neither has Bobbi-Jo. Bobbie-Jo currently is on the Provincial Rehabilitation Unit of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She is an active participant in her daily therapies. She is wheel chair dependent, but her movement has improved greatly. Although she is nonverbal, Bobbi-Jo is able to communicate effectively with her family, her friends, her therapists , her nurses and doctors. “As of now she is responding to people around her… She is smiling and laughing a lot more with us in the past month. She has use of her hand and tries brushing her hair. She puts on lip gloss, she gives us high fives, thumbs up, waves when we leave and tells us she loves us with signs. She can tell us when her birthday is if she is given choices, and can tell us how old she is by blinking her eyes 17 times. All the small things are huge in our eyes. A few months ago, she was not able to do any of this: She is coming along very well” (Donna LeClair). On July 5, 2010 Bobbie Jo wrote “It's weird how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything’s different”.
Bobbi-Jo’s parents are at the hospital (which is 2 hours away from their home) every single day. They attend all of BJ’s therapies, administer her tube feeds, attend to her personal cares and are her biggest advocates. Her extended family and all her friends make the two hour journey, multiple times weekly, to visit with Bobbi-Jo. Their love and strength is an inspiration to everyone who has been graced with the gift of meeting this amazing family and members of their community.
Last week, Children’s Charity delivered the news that they have decided to assist with the purchase of a van for Bobbi-Jo’s family: They are grateful, beyond words. Thing is, once purchased, it will cost $23,000-$25,000 to modify the van to Bobbi-Jo’s needs. The ultimate goal of her family, friends and community is to bring Bobbi Jo home. The family home does not suit Bobbi-Jo’s needs. If she is to return to her community of Tignish- A community that has watched her grow, supported her struggles, felt her pain, and desperately misses her presence- they will have to bring home to her. As explained by Kenneth Murnihan (Brain Injury Association of PEI) the best possible scenario for a survivor of a brain injury is to maintain their community supports, and eventually return home. “We want to take Bobbi-Jo home as soon as we can afford to build a new house. The one we have now is old, and cannot be modified to meet her needs. We have been by her side since the night of the accident. We have great support from family and friends who are waiting for her to come home, back to school and back to a community that misses her very much. She also has a little niece who was born 2 days before the accident- Bobbi-Jo would love to be a part of her life. Early on, the doctors mentioned putting Bobbi-Jo in a home but we said no way. She is coming home with us- There is no way we will put her is a home to be forgotten about.” (Donna LeClair).
Bobbi-Jo wants to be with her family, and wants to be in her home community. Before the accident she said. “Not everything turns into what it's supposed to be. Not everybody is supposed to just walk out of your life. Sometimes surprises and second chances do happen, you just can't be afraid to let them happen.♥” (Bobbie- Jo LeClair, August 24, 2010). It is clear that Bobbi-Jo has been granted that second chance- She has come so far since a tragic accident almost claimed her life. If she was able to speak, she would agree that “It is vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding the interest of the individual” (Jeremy Bentham, Philosopher & Activist).