With March recognized as Traumatic Brain Injury Month, best friends Regina Stanley and Valeria Hodges joined forces in early February to begin work on a vendor bingo benefit for March 28 with Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia as its beneficiary.

The event will be at the Redwood Community Center at 2445 Old Franklin Turnpike in Rocky Mount from 2 to 6 p.m. with doors opening at 1 p.m.

Hodges is well-acquainted with the effects of traumatic brain injury as her and her husband Greg’s son, Tyler Hodges, was 13 years old when he experienced a TBI from a four-wheeler crash. It happened on a Wednesday during spring break week as Tyler and his cousins and friends were riding four-wheelers on a trail near their homes.

In addition to the TBI, Tyler also had facial and internal injuries. Tyler spent a total of five weeks at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital and Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk.

Today, Tyler looks like a normal 16-year-old. He has hearing loss in his left ear and has issues with short-term memory. His mother said his memory is continuing to improve and a lot depends on whether he’s had a good night’s sleep, which can be hard to do after having a TBI.

Valeria Hodges said, “School has been marvelous. They are wonderful.” She had high praises for Theresa Camm, a para-professional at FCHS, who works with Tyler each day.

She also credited Chelsea Taylor, a youth and adolescent case manager with Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia, which is located in Roanoke.

“He likes having Chelsea as his counselor,” Hodges said. “She’s younger and can relate. They [BIS] have been a really big help to us.’’

The motto for BIS is “help for today, hope for tomorrow. We work with brain injury survivors to turn tragedy into hope.”

Hodges said she especially appreciates Taylor’s help in coming to meetings with her at FCHS for Tyler to make sure he is receiving the necessary accommodations.

“It’s been my pleasure to be able to help Tyler for the past two and a half years through my work at Brain Injury Services of SWVA,” Taylor said. “He’s made incredible strides post injury, and we continue to make progress with his schoolwork.”

Hodges added, “Chelsea’s great on any questions we have. She is good helping caregivers as well.”

Another helpful resource for the Hodges family was Linda Bailey with Total You Health in Roanoke. Through a basketball game and then two car crashes in high school, her older daughter suffered with TBI. In her quest for additional help, Bailey discovered Randolph Merrick in Charlottesville, who is an international speaker on red light therapy. This led Bailey to acquiring equipment to help her daughter. Seeing how much it helped, Bailey started her own business in southwest Roanoke County.

“Now instead of spot treatment, we have a whole body light pod to treat everybody for pain and inflammation,” she said, adding that she was the first business in Virginia with a whole body light pod.

Mae Johnson, director of development and marketing for BIS, said, “I’m thrilled that one of our survivor families is holding this fundraiser for us. The money raised will help other brain injury survivors in the community through our case management program as well as our local support group.”

Hodges said tickets for the March 28 bingo event are $25 and include 20 games of bingo (tickets for children 12 and younger are $10 with a paying adult). Extra packs will be sold for $10 each.

Food also will be available for purchase and vendors will include Thirty-One, Magnabilities, Tupperware, Scentsy and those with baked goods.

For more information, contact 493-6995.

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