GREAT FALLS - An effort is underway by Brenna Lapke and her husband Matthew to help people in north-central Montana who are suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
"We've received a ton of support and community interest. When we start talking to people in Great Falls and the surrounding area I'm never not shocked at how many people deal with traumatic brain injury. But you don't see the ribbons for that,” Brenna said.
"We filed our official paperwork for a 501c3 with the state of Montana, that will be called ‘Tenacity Beyond Injury TBI Support.’ Our hope is to bring awareness to the community,” Brenna said.
Bringing awareness is something she's been passionate about ever since finding out Matthew suffered a TBI as a result of a car crash.
"You go to the ER and they're, like, 'Oh yeah, concussion. Good luck' right? But then there were behavioral changes and mood changes and cognition changes. We didn't know. We didn't know what was happening,” said Brenna.
After years of not knowing, she said, someone suggested Matthew might have a traumatic brain injury.
"Then we were like, 'Oh!' Then we were able to seek out the Brain Injury Alliance in Missoula that nobody knows about, the puzzle club support group in Missoula that nobody knows about,” Brenna said.
Matthew said now seems like the right time for he and his wife to devote their full attention to TBI support.
"It'll never go anywhere if it doesn't get talked about. We had a little bit of time to get things straightened away and Brenna said 'Well, let's just do it now.' Because really, what's the difference? It doesn't matter. You have somebody who's in a jam and can get help from the information that somebody can provide. Now is the time,” Matthew explained. "I’ve talked to a lot of people, man, about this and people around here mean a lot to me, they do. This community's in the middle of nowhere and they just need someone to talk to."
Brenna has created a Facebook page which she said grew to more than 100 members the first day and she would love to eventually open a clinic.
"To bring some of that help and community and awareness and 'Hey, look. You're not alone. You're not crazy. It's going to be okay. That's what we want for people, especially families and people who might not know what else to do,” Brenna said.
She plans to host weekly get-togethers for the community.