The Masks

North Carolina

In partnership with

Name:  Brian

City:  Hickory

Brain Injury: Military trauma

Explanation of MaskTop left- red, white and blue for the flag of the nation I so proudly served for over 20yrs and Navy blue and gold for my branch of service.

Top right- green the favorite color of a very special person in my life who helped me and has made me feel safe sharing my experiences and feelings.

Bottom left- black, red and green.  The colors of the Afghanistan flag.  The country where it all started…..

Bottom right- black.  The darkest I felt both during and after my tour in Afghanistan was complete…. and continuesd for quite some time.

I purposefully divided the bottom half of my mask below the eyes because I felt lost.  In the dark and unable to see my way clear during my time in Afghanistan and after……

Name:  Kacky H.

City:  Chapel Hill

Brain Injury: Car wreck in 1971

Explanation of Mask: I have gone on beyond my brain injury.  I am running and singing and being my best.  I believe in living life going forward.  I put horses, a cat, and dogs on my mask.  Animals are a wonderful and critical connection with love for me.  By loving and sharing the things I love with others, I try to make the world a better place.

Name:  Diane K.

City:  Fuquay-Varina 

Brain Injury: Concussion from car crash in 2011

Explanation of Mask: Diane mask is abstract because she feels that most represents the experience.  The blank part is a visual representation of TBI symptoms of memory loss, attention deficit, aphasia, etc.  The flood of color represents the trauma and emotional turmoil.  The direction is ascending which is the sense of overcoming the challenge.  The colors are sunrise because a sunrise represents the hope of a new day as in the verse, Psalms 30:5…”Weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning.”  Diane wishes faith, hope, and healing to all touched by traumatic brain injury. 

Name:  Guy

City:  Clyde

Brain Injury: I have had 11 TBI’s.  1st one started at age 6.  Last one at age 66.  I received 3 in the military and 7 traumatic events.

Explanation of Mask: I was in special forces as a combat medic. I was at a life and death on different times during the Vietnam War. The day I was discharged I was walking down the street on the sidewalk. Some people in a white Toyota car ran on the sidewalk and tried to kill me and yelled out the window, “Baby Killer.”

Name:  Mike K.

City:  Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: 60 feet fall through a roof

Explanation of Mask: This mask demonstrates the anonymity, frustration, and aggravation from the brain injury. I am another anonymous person going through this process and the medical community (doctors) do not care.


Name:  Lyn V.

City:  Black Mountain, NC

Brain Injury: Ruptured Aneurysm

Explanation of Mask: Hope has been a very important part of my recovery. My family and friends always fill me with hopes for healing. My own hope was, is, and will always be to be helpful. The blooming flowers represent the rejuvenation my brain and body has done plus my love of nature.


Name:  Michael N..

City:  Wilmington, NC

Brain Injury: Brain Tumor.  Astrocytoma.  2 in my left temporal lobe.  Had to remove part of my amygdala and hippocampus.

Explanation of Mask: I The Question Mark (?) is where I have my scar.  The lightning is for migraines.  The cloud is for brain fog.  The heart is for my son.  The tears are depression.  The battery is for fatigue.  My mouth is covered for one to talk to.  Headphones for relaxing to music.  Grey color for brain cancer. 

**One mask made by Michael (father) and by his young son**



Name:  Adam S.

City:  Elon, NC

Brain Injury: My brain injury was from sports in school and PTSD during military service.

Explanation of Mask: Black on my mask underlies all with the sophisticated array of thoughts and emotions. Yellow and red are important warnings. Pink is seeing with kindness. Blue is speaking calmly. I have long struggled with insomnia. I like to read, play music and learn. I have overcome insomnia and PTSD. Learning about my TBIs left me with complicated emotions.t has changed the way I see the world and communicate with it. Yet it has engendered in me a sense of compassion, curiosity, and a desire for kindness and serenity. I want to learn more, broadening my compassion and how to help.


Name:  Greg R.

City:  Cary, NC

Brain Injury: My brain injury started when I was 15.  I got hit by a car and I was all by myself to find my way back.  It was not the best experience.  Then with my anxiety growing day by day I was involved in a car accident where I blacked out and I hit a tree going 60 mph.

Explanation of Mask: I was blessed by God to survive.  Now I am getting help from family.  The way I feel every day.

Name:  Dakota D.

City:  Garner, NC

Brain Injury: Car Accident

Explanation of Mask: My brain injury came from a car accident.  I was in the hospital for 6 months.  My mask represents things I did prior to my accident.  I am recovering a plan to do all the things again that I once enjoyed.

Name:  Tasha

City:  Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: MVA

Explanation of Mask: I chose the color red to represent the love I have in my heart.  The purple represents the fact that I am friendly, kind, sweet, loving, and gentle.  I want others to have those same qualities.  The white represents the things I cant’ remember.  I wish I could remember like everyone else.  I had a car accident when I was three years old. 

I am doing good now, I have a daughter, and I have worked at Bojangles.  I spend time at Gateway Clubhouse, where I have friends, and I get to do fun things such as volunteering at Meals On Wheels and in the community.

Name:  Cynthia J.C. H.

City:  Durham, NC

Brain Injury: MA car accident traveling to work on Hwy 70 in Durham, NC

Explanation of Mask: My mask describes my feelings and emotions that are my goals. Yellow  represents my goal to be happy. The purple represents my want to be romantic. I want the red to stand for feeling important, however right now it
stands for my aggression. The mask also describes my feelings now. I feel like I am a burden to my family because I cannot be left alone. Someone has to be with me always, which I believe is unfair. I am unhappy  because I cannot drive anymore. I have to rely on other people. The heart represents me and the black outline represents me being unhappy that I have to rely on others. The black fist hand represents my activism. I am a big advocate for the brain injury community in Durham, North Carolina. I believe in fair wages and safer housing for all. The blue ribbon represents
me being sad which stands for the color blue.

Name:  Beth D.

City:  Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: Sustained Injury- I overdosed.

Explanation of Mask: The mask is represented for feelings associated with my injury. Before my injury I felt happy, grateful, peaceful and positive. After my injury I feel isolated, indifferent, positive, loved and frustrated. The word breath represents being peaceful, the unicorn represents positivity, the girl represents happiness, the leaves represent indifferent, the desert is for isolated and frustrated. 

Name:  Marissa

City:  Swansboro, NC

Brain Injury: First I had a grapefruit size tumor removed in 2018 from my Temporal Lobe in my brain and then in February 2020, a second brain surgery.

Explanation of Mask: After my brain injury I have had a Metamorphosis. Good changes have come in my life. I am an artist. I am a musician. I am working and going to school. I do not enjoy large crowds of people. I am better at Math.

Name:  Carl F.

City:  Durham, NC

Brain Injury: Unknown.  Found on ground.  Possible fall or assault.  I can’t remember.

Explanation of Mask: It includes several of my hobbies as well as my previous job working with computers.  I like to cook and fish.  I’m interested in emerging technologies. 

Name:  Sgt. Gregory M. (retired)

City:  Pickens

Brain Injury:  My injury came from percussion from multiple grenades, IED’s, firing of a .50 cal all contributed.  The final incident was when the enemy was infiltrating our camp.  A mortar round blew me off my gunner truck leaving me unconscious.  Marines came in and saved my life.

Explanation of Mask: Camo-forever heart and mind soldier/Green-envious of those whose brains think “normally”/Orange-love to laugh and joke even if at times it’s to cover hurt/Red- I am passionate about who I have and what I’ve done in life.  Aggression that has been uncontrollable and misunderstood. With classes, therapy, and support I can now control and understand it.

Name:  Esance L.

City:  Norfolk, VA

Brain Injury: Don’t know/ Had a heart attack (anoxic brain injury)

Explanation of Mask: Red is my favorite color.  I was born in Belize and raised in New York.  Basketball is my favorite sport.  The anchor represents my service in the Navy.  I love my family- have a wife and 3 children.

Name:  Sandy B.

City:  Stedman, NC

Brain Injury: Fell on ice when working as a professional 18 wheeler Truck Driver.  I went out to check on the trucks and fell.  My therapist mean alot to me and continue to help.

Explanation of Mask: The color brown on my mask represent my being sturdy, reliable and a natural.  The stickers represent my love for the beach.  My wife and I enjoy our place in Myrtle Beach.

Name:  Donte B.

City:  Knightdale

Brain Injury: SIGSW (Self-Inflicted Gun Injury) in 2013

Explanation of Mask: This is the 3rd mask I’ve made and it represents where I am in life right now with my life with family and friends.

Name:  Tommy P.

City:  Graham, NC

Brain Injury: Fell down about 40 feet on to my head.

Explanation of Mask: This is my life now.  I have overcome drinking, drugging and worries.  I like to read and use my phone for news.  God, my wife (Noelle), my children (Squirt and Shrimp) and being in the outdoors has helped my recovery.  Happiness and peace have come to me.  I want to be an example to others.  The injury has been a blessing, even though it has changed my life.

Name:  Litzahaya P C L

City:  Mexico City

Brain Injury: Brain aneurysm resulting in a Fall.   Unfortunately I have to live with some problems with my sight, cervical spine and cerebral artery malformation derived from the aneurysm.

Explanation of Mask: The mask shows how I see my health. It’s a cluster of circumstances after my brain aneurysm appeared. It came unexpectedly through a hemorrhage. That’s why I represent it as a red lightning bolt on my life. I have 3 coils and a stent in my brain. In my mask, I show them with a yellow spiral. Some days I feel broken because of the pain, but other days, I feel better and I think the bad time will pass. That’s why half of the mask contains those good days that I represent with the ocean and a big whale as a symbolism of strength and freedom. Designing the mask made me feel grateful to God for having movement to do it.

Name:  David E.

City:  Durham, NC

Brain Injury: Cycling accident

Explanation of Mask: In 2018 I was in avid adventurous cyclist, and had ridden a total of 1,800 miles within the year.  On August 26th 2018 I went out for an afternoon ride in South Durham on the American Tobacco Trail. During my time on that ride I was involved in an accidental fall that left me hurt after I fell off the bike, I hit my head.  I was taken by ambulance after the fall to Duke University Hospital who assessed my condition and treated me for the initial injury.

Name:  TJay P.

City:  Daytona

Brain Injury: Industrial accident.  I got hit in the head by an overhead I-beam.

Explanation of Mask: My mask shows that I am confused, anxious and frustrated.  I’m generally a happy person, but now there are days I have to work at it.  I perseverate on food.  I am becoming more patient as I work through my injury.

Name:  Tim D.

City:  Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: I was involved in a one-car accident that was my fault.  I don’t remember anything and I am grateful for that.  That’s probably one of the best things about it.

Explanation of Mask: The colors indicate red as passion, black is a shadow, the blues represent positive feelings and are near my brain as I am trying to be more positive.  I have a love for all animals and have 2 cats.


Name:  Diamone R.

City:  Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: When I was just 22 months old, I was backed up on by a driver in an apartment parking lot and run over.

Explanation of Mask: It’s my future of my disability.  It shows my future of who I see myself as.

Name:  Mark O.

City:  Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: Bicycle Accident

Explanation of Mask: Music & Guitar playing are important to me.  Bike riding represented a big part of my life.  Sometimes life is more fun when you act like a clown.

Name:   Richard H.

City:  Greensboro, NC

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: My brain injury makes me sad and tired. Sometimes I feel bitter, angry, restless, or lonely.  Other times I feel thankful, hope, confident and gratitude. I like to walk and do word puzzles to work my brain. I have overcome a lot, but I have a long way to go.  I am thankful for my family, my knowledge of insurance and baseball which helps me relax. The colors on my mask are from ECU. My goal is to come to peach\e with myself.  The left side of my mask are things I never used to say. The right side is what I’ve learned to accept after TBI.


Name:  Joseph S.

City:  Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: I was involved in a car accident.  The truck I was driving flipped over while traveling in Lake Tahoe, NV. It was a street sweeper.  I was in college studying Business Info Systems.  My plans were to work for Google.

Explanation of Mask: The color black represents my unhappiness but I am “dedicated to getting better.  The pink represents that I am a kind person.  Silver means “once a Nevadian Wolfpack, always a Wolfpack.” 12 represents the date of my TBI May 12th.  I am a Champion because I survived.  Football was my sport at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Name:  Michael (Mike) S.

City:  Durham, NC

Brain Injury: Motorcycle Accident

Explanation of Mask: The purple represents spirituality (royalty) and the yellow represents the sun in which comes my strength and where I get my growth.


Name:  Clifton F.

City:  Durham, NC

Brain Injury: Car wreck

Explanation of Mask: In 2015 I was finally getting it together and about to take my National Barber exam.  Now I need help.  My mask represents a lot.  I’m a brother and I know God is good.  I like to go fishing for Crabbies, Bass and Catfish.  I have a nickname Dub.


Name:  James S.

City:  Durham, NC

Brain Injury: I was shot in the head during a drive-by shooting in 1997. The Lord helped me to recover after being shot.

Explanation of Mask: The yellow and black is a painting my Mother put on my walking cane. I need this after being shot in the head. Black on my lips represents aphasia. Hope signifies my survival as does the cross. My Mother’s prayers brought me back to life. The black hole represents the bullet that hit my head. In my free time, I like to talk, ‘get out’, and listen to music. I hope to find a new place to live.



Name:  TJ D.

City:  Jacksonville, NC

Brain Injury: TBI sustained as passenger in private motor vehicle while U.S. Marine on active duty, Okinawa, 1976.  Climbed out of wreck, transported to hospital and passed out, several days in ICU, then out to regular ward; fractured neck, hip, hand, other injuries, no head injury diagnosis.  Period of light duty recovery and then “back to work/carry on.” Pressure would build on right side of the brain, sometimes brief and disappear, others build and persist, and then piercing flash of pain.  Still, “carry on, mission to support.”  As time and age advance symptoms change, no specific trigger events identified; can be under pressure to perform tasks/meet goals and feel pressure build, OR be reading a book/watching tv and get flash of pain; varying degrees, variable levels of pain.  Now treatment with medicines, however still have random occurrences.  When will it end? Unknown! Press on regardless! Enjoy each day!

Explanation of Mask: Camo pattern cut from my uniform, one of many from 28+ years active duty.  Blue side= cold, tolerances changed, suppression; Spike at location of impact, where pain begins and penetrates into brain.  Stitches between camo into Blue represent efforts to tie my life together, before and after injury.  Dark spot above eye is where pressure lingers after lightning flashes (orange painted lines with flecks of glitter for heat).  Closed lips because sometimes I cannot express myself clearly; sometimes I think things but I do not want to say them.  BIANC has been a very big help in assisting me learn more about TIB, my condition, and providing an opportunity to help others.


Name:  Denise D.

City:  N/A

Brain Injury: Fell out of a 3rd floor window at age 4

Explanation of Mask: I have pain all of my life that people do not see.  People judge.  The left side depicts “ice pick” headaches that I have.  I have had sadness and pain. Right side depicts the good times of my life and my wellness plan.  The sunshine guides me, because there are always bright days ahead.

Name:  Arnold L.

City:  Brown’s Summit, NC

Brain Injury: I shot myself in the head trying to kill myself.  I’m disappointed about losing my job at UPS. The reason why I say that is that I was making $23. per hour without a high school education!!  That’s all I can share.

Explanation of Mask: I like to read, workout, got to church and meet new people.  I am thankful for life, health and strength.  I want to help others with depression and drug abuse.  If I can save someone’s life from dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts,  if I can save just one person from killing themselves, that would be great.


Name:  Laura H.

City:  Hubert

Brain Injury: Arteriovenous malformation surgery

Explanation of Mask: The mask represents the crisscross of the left and the right half of the brain.  What is missing is on the left, what doesn’t work is on the right,

Name:  Matt P.

City:  Richlands

Brain Injury: Multiple concussions (TBIs) and Drug overdose

Explanation of Mask: I had multiple concussions from football in high school and one in college.  Later I had a drug overdose which caused an anoxic brain injury from loss of oxygen to my brain.

Name:  Chris D.

City:  Ahoskie

Brain Injury: Motorcycle Accident

Explanation of Mask: When I was 25, I was on my motorcycle when a car turned in front of me.  I was flown to Greenville and unconscious for 3 weeks.  I stayed in the hospital for 41 days.  The stripes represent my hair flowing behind me as I drove my Honda.

Name:  Beverly J.

City:  Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Automobile Accident

Explanation of Mask: I was in a car accident.  I love to dress up in pearls and love bright colors.  My eyes show I can see and make my own decisions and way.  I enjoy joking around and having fun.

Name:  Katrina L.

City:  Hubert

Brain Injury: Fall, I tripped on a cracked sidewalk while going to the doctor for follow up visit (for my shoulder) and I fell flat on my face.

Explanation of Mask: The right side of my face on the mask is me before the fall.  I always liked adventure, people and travel.  The left side of my face is me after the fall.  I am afraid of falling again.  I do not like to go out as much as I used to. 

Name:  Carolyn L.

City:  Jacksonville

Brain Injury: Moya Moya Brain Disease

Explanation of Mask: My carotid artery on my left brain clogged and the right side was feeding my brain.  It caused seizures and I had two brain surgeries in 2000.  I am celebrating God’s grace with me through my ongoing recuperation.  I give Him all the glory.

Name:  Javaan D.L.

City:  Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: Sitting on my motorcycle at a red light.  Got hit from behind and dragged down the street.  Fell into a coma and woke up in the hospital.

Explanation of Mask: My mask explains the way I feel right now.  Happy to be alive, happy to be a Puerto Rican, happy to be an American, happy to share my story with the world.  I am just So Happy.

Name:  Jeff E.

City:  Greenville

Brain Injury: In an accident from riding a moped.  I hit a tree.

Explanation of Mask: My dad graduated from, and I went to NC State for three years.  I graduated from ECU.  I worked at BB&T after college as a loan officer.  I eat apples every day.  My left eye and ear were injured in my accident.  I like helping others.

Name:  Clifton F.

City:  Raleigh and Durham, NC

Brain Injury: I was in a bad car crash.  The car went 120 ft in the air and I flew out. I woke up in the hospital.  I don’t remember what happened.  They said I “died” three times.

Explanation of Mask: M “Ja-Dub no Love” is the name my friends call me.  Just before my accident I got licensed to be a barber.  This is what the scissors and comb represent.  Music calms me- oldies are my favorite.  My recovery is going well.  I’m learning to walk again.  I want to get my driver’s license back and travel again.

Name:  Edgar G.

City:  Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: I fell at work. I was up two flights on scaffolding.  I fell to the ground.

Explanation of Mask: I am motivated to do better every day.

Name:  Mikaela H.

City:  Waynesville, NC

Brain Injury: A car wreck due to hydroplaning

Explanation of Mask: My story is crazy; not by being deranged or somehow psychotic but by being absurdly unlikely.  My life should have ended at 17; in may way, that life did. Late one-night driving home in a persistent rain, I hydroplaned into oncoming traffic.  The only other car on the road at 1:30 in the morning slammed into my passenger side.  I nearly bit my tongue off, broke the rocker bones off two of my vertebrae, collapsed a lung, broke the roof of my mouth, crushed the upper left portion  of my skull, and sustained a traumatic brain injury.

I damaged the frontal and temporal lobes of my brain.  The frontal lobe deals with you conscience and your forward planning; the temporal lobe deals with you base personality.  As a result, I regressed to the mental age of a toddler, had no sense of right and wrong, an inability to forward plan, and, on top of everything else, I had an altered personality.  I relearned to walk, was re-potty trained, relearned to talk, the whole nine yards.  I was in a comma about 3 weeks and rehab another 3 weeks.  I was largely functional by the time I came out of the comatose-ed state about 1.5 months after my accident.  When I came to, I was an 18-year old with temporary amnesia who had the mentality of a 5 or 6 year old and was a completely different person; only I didn’t know any of that. 

My mom had been told that if I came out of the coma, I would be severely mentally handicapped and in assisted living for the rest of my life.  By some miracle, that was not at all the case.  Still everything seemed grey; my world was not what it should have been, and I was not the person I knew myself to be.  I knew who I had been, and I tried to be that person as best any 5-year old could be, but it was like living in the confines of a stranger.  My taste in food, entertainment, people, everything was different; I was a new person and had to learn how to be that person. 

The written process will sound straightforward enough but it took 5 to 7 years of questions and struggles for me to really level out.  My healing as a person really began probably a year later after a discussion with my sister.  I was talking about how I had use to be, comparing myself to that now unreal standard and blaming my new personality on the injury.  My sister stopped me, looked me in the eyes and said “No.  This is you now, you are not your brain injury.  We all change, you just did it quickly.  This, who you are now, is who you are and there is nothing wrong with that.”

At 18 I was a new person. As my mother put it “you are still the same core person, but the details are different.” There were many struggles but over time I opened up to learning the new me and life didn’t stop.  I knew if I hadn’t tried or done something since my wreck, I didn’t know if I like it or not; as a result, I became open to new things and experiences.  Since my wreck; I moved to college 9 months later, had many wonderful experiences and friends, graduated summa cum laude with a BS in mechanical engineering, followed my sister to Idaho, got a position working for HP Inc., and recently bought my first house.  I am passionate about travel, adore people and stay surrounded by many friends.  I have gotten into snowboarding, taken up country swing dancing, love to hike, cook and bake every chance I get, am a huge advocate of Dave Ramsey, and recently started trying my hand at painting.

My life is beautiful.  I live near my sister, am close with my family, am a successful engineer, and am a busy body with a large friend group. Technically my life is phenomenally different than it would have been, I can’t even imagine that life; more importantly, I don’t care to.  I still struggle some with the repercussion of the accident but it’s not different than dealing with the long-term effects of any brain injury.  I have learned that my life is no more the result of my brain injury than someone’s life would be the result of the broken leg they had as a child.  The injury is part of my story, its part of who I am just like every other occurrence in my life, but it is no more defining than any part of my story.


Name:  Renee A.

City:  Raleigh

Brain Injury: Work related Fall

Explanation of Mask: Before the injury, I didn’t spend enough time with family because I was always working.  After the injury, the cracked back picture is what happened to me.  Been away from home for a long time.  I’m going to spend more time now at home.  I want to enjoy my family.

Name:  Elias P.

City:  Raleigh

Brain Injury: Work related Fall

Explanation of Mask: The brown represents my face before the accident & the black represents after the accident.   My face is not black but my feelings are dark.  The bird represents when I was well.  After the accident my hair is now ugly.

Name:  Landon M.

City:  Raleigh

Brain Injury: Work related Fall- Fell off a skylight and hit the concrete on my left side.

Explanation of Mask: Black is after the accident, Blue is before.  Blue is my happy memories.  Black is my wishful memories.  My left arm is falling off.  I feel hurt, pain, numbness, and helpless.  I used to feel happy, eager, and easy going.  I will still feel that way after my arm is fixed.

Name:  Roy M.

City:  Willow Springs, NC

Brain Injury:  I was born with my ABI.  I don’t really know. 

Explanation of Mask:  I have epilepsy and a learning disability.  My brain is bigger on one side.  Sometimes I feel insecure.  But I am loved and I’m happy.  I enjoy Nascar!

Name:  Leslie Marie O.

City:  Goldsboro

Brain Injury: I had a drug overdose.

Explanation of Mask: Creativity, Thankfulness, Spirituality, Humility, Courage, Compassion, Growth, and Uniqueness are all things that describe me.

Name:  Marcus H.

City:  Fuquay Varina, NC

Brain Injury: Automobile Accident

Explanation of Mask: Julio Jones is my favorite wide receiver; I used to play football.  Kawhi Leonard is one of my favorite basketball players.  I like to laugh.  I was a barber before the accident.  My injury is documented and this is my new life.  Family is very important.  The red on top is because when the accident first happened, I was angry.  Blue on the bottom because I am happier now.

Name:  Troy W.A.

City:  Durham, NC

Brain Injury: I was in a motorcycle wreck. I’m still messed up and take medication for it. I’m out of work indefinitely because of it.

Explanation of Mask: I like to fish.  It’s my way of taking it easy.  I’m taking recovery one day at a time. I’m thankful to be alive and that I’m working to get my health back.

Name:  Cindy K.

City:  Jamestown

Brain Injury: 1/7/2011 I was T-boned on the way to work by a distracted driver.

Explanation of Mask: I suffered my BI from a car wreck.  Job loss, PTSD, neck surgery, shoulder surgery, wrist surgery, and herniated discs.  Over 300 doctor appointments, therapy needs, clinical trials, etc.  The brain injury lasts forever- 7 years later I have some level of acceptance of the new me.  I’m a work in progress.

Name:  Chris R.

City:  Raleigh

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: The mask represents my life before and after my brain injury.  The red side of the masks represents my life before my injury and some of the hunting and fishing I have done.  The blue represents my life after my injury and some of the plans I have for my future.  Some feelings listed before my injury include: happy, sad, dissatisfied, complacent.  Some feelings listed after my injury include: Dissatisfied, remorseful, distracted, longing to home and unconfident physically.

Name:  Joey W.

City:  Fayetteville

Brain Injury: 1989 Motorcycle accident- Spent 2-3 months in coma

Explanation of Mask: Care free summer of love to the stark reality of 2017.  I’m still dealing with the effects of the brain injury.  I lived a very different lifestyle before the accident.  I drank a lot; I partied.  Now I am much more careful and don’t drink at all.

Name:  Darren F.

City:  Virginia

Brain Injury: Car Wreck

Explanation of Mask: I was 36 when I had a car wreck.  I was a contract supervisor and built many houses.  I built Richard Petty’s house and the structures at Victory Junction.  I was in a coma for about 4 months.  I am the oldest child of 5 children and have two children that live in Florida.  If I have learned one thing I would pass on to others don’t drive intoxicated.   I currently live in Clemmons in a group home and would love to work again.

Name:  Stephen H.

City:  Peachland

Brain Injury: Four-wheeler accident

Explanation of Mask: I was 17 years old when I had a four wheeler accident.  I have a wheelchair and can walk some.  I have short term memory loss.  My blue mask represents tings I love which is music and God.  I am inspiring to others with a positive attitude.  I am faithful to my God and my beliefs.

Name:  Cyndi B.

City:  Raleigh

Brain Injury: Work related Fall

Explanation of Mask: Before I was very happy and independent.  I loved life in general.  I loved going out with friends.  After the accident I tend to want to sleep more.  Depressed some days and some days going crazy.  I just want to hide behind glasses.  I tend to stay at home a lot.

Name:  Andrew M.

City:  Winston Salem

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of Mask: I was 19 and had a wreck.  I like poetry and am trying to get it published.  I was someone who didn’t believe.  I found people that had made the change much earlier.  Those people helped me find him again.  After 8 years of not following him, I found him again with the help of a man “of the cloth.” He taught me how to truly trust him, with whatever life throws your way.  He’ll improve your day, you just need to believe that he will.  You need to trust him to believe what he does is the truth.  That he will soothe the believer’s heart.  He realized that he needed to “re-start” his heart, to complete the change.  He could re-arrange his life so he could “see” the changes he made.

Name:  Roberto B.

City:  Raleigh

Brain Injury: Work related Fall

Explanation of Mask: This mask design is based on part of life issues, however the final concept of it is based in a whole….The colors used are only to show the emotion by their use, and not their representation (For examples red does not mean blood, heart, etc…)  Representation begins in top left side, with red representing being smart and it shows a growth all over the face going to orange meaning assertiveness from there it becomes green, meaning caring.  Once it starts going to the right side (actual time) a yellow stripe fades it all, insulates all, the “incident” then becomes just blue with all the meaning of the word and the color.

Name:  Don S.

City:  Raleigh

Brain Injury: Assaulted

Explanation of Mask: I used some of my favorite colors for my mask.  I first chose yellow and the feeling happy.  I know that above everything I should always be happy and I am taken care of.  I next used red which represents open.  I have an open sense of humor and I am very easy-going.  I chose black which is dark for the angry feeling.  I feel angry when I cannot say exactly how I feel because the words don’t come out right.  Last is blue which represents depressed, which I feel sometimes, but I always try to stay positive no matter what.

Name:  Jeff O.

City:  Raleigh

Brain Injury: Pedestrian Stuck by Vehicle

Explanation of Mask: The mask represents before and after the accident with the police car- happy, health, family and painful both before and after.  No negative connotation involved just going through the plan so I can go home.  Emphasize family, community, love and home.

Name:  Mike T.

City:  Kitty Hawk

Brain Injury: Hit by a car

Explanation of Mask: I was late for my curfew and on my bike trying to get home.  I was hit by a car and in the hospital for a very long time.  I loved to go to the beach and skateboard.  I have to keep working hard and improving my daily skills.  I plan to “Keep living life.”

Name:  Linwood W.

City:  Wilmington

Brain Injury: I was hit by a truck while riding a bicycle.  My frontal lobe was removed.  I was in a coma for 2 months.  My memory is getting better.

Explanation of Mask: I played basketball with Michael Jordan when I was in 10th grade.  I am lucky to be alive.  23 is Michael Jordan’s number.  Light blue is because I am a UNC fan. I am back with reality, a new life, and a smile.

Name:  Derek S.

City:  Edenton

Brain Injury: Fall

Explanation of Mask: In 2014 when I was 37 years old I was walking on a railroad track, fell and hit my head.  I had my own place, a girlfriend and work.  The black represents darkness, red represents blood.  The Sun represents me (the man), the moon represents the woman, and the star represents children.  The glasses represent vision (my future and my desire…woman, children and a house).

Name:  Chanay S.

City:  Raeford

Brain Injury: TBI- blunt force trauma.  SDH Evaluation with craniotomy.

Explanation of Mask: My ex-boyfriend and I got into a fight and I ended up getting hurt really bad.  I can’t remember what happened.  My brain injury is difficult.  It has me thinking about life and things I used to do.  The girl on the mask reminds me of me.  Blue is my favorite color.  The shoe represents the steps I am taking.  This brain injury has affected my motor skills and train of thought.  It’s hard to put thoughts together with my words.  It has made me realize how important my family is.  I can see now things are different and how this has affected everybody.

Name:  Juliet H.

City:     Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: I was in a car accident trying to dodge a deer

Explanation of Mask: F My mask is the Tarheels against Wolfpack.

Name:  Angela H.

City:  Fayetteville

Brain Injury: At age 22 years old, Greenville, NC a senior in college, my dream was becoming the best prosecutor in North Carolina.  I was a wife, a mother, and a full-time student; that was in the last couple of weeks of my internship at the D.A.’s office.  In a blink of an eye, my life changed forever.  On June 22, 1990, I was involved in a car accident and my life started over.  I never graduated college and had to forget my dream of law school.

Explanation of Mask: Feathers on top show my love of life.  I believe life is like a feather in the wind; you never know where you are going to land.  However, I am surrounded by friends and family who love me: therefore, I have been able to survive some of the most difficult challenges.  Every day is a challenge! 

Faith is me in God. 

Tears are for everything that I lost. 

My prayer sticker means I am in constant prayer to survive each day. 

The most important is my belief, prayer sticker and my smile.  I believe that we are just passing through and this is not my eternity, and I can handle whatever happens with a smile.

Name:  Ryan S.

City:  Belhaven

Brain Injury: Car Accident

Explanation of Mask: I was 16 when I had my brain injury.  I had been deer hunting and on my way home was in a car accident.  I was in a coma for 13 months in a hospital in Greenville, NC.  I played football at Belhaven High school as a linebacker.  I had planed to go into the NAVY.  Since my accident I have had to take a positive attitude.  I wold love to be employable.  I like to go outside.  It makes me happy to make the smallest accomplishments. I had to learn how to feed myself.  This was one of those small accomplishments that I am thankful for…

Name:  Michael O.

City:  Thomasville

Brain Injury: Automobile Accident

Explanation of Mask: When I was 22 years old, I had a wreck.  I used to build houses.  Before I had my accident, I hunted, played baseball, golfed, and had nice girlfriends,  I loved life.  After the accident, I was in a coma for three months.  I had to learn everything over.  If I had anything to say to people, it is “Life is too short and can be taken away from you in a split second”.  I now look forward to any outings outside of the place I live.

Name:  Norris B.

City:  Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Kitty B.

City:  High Point, NC

Brain Injury: Car crash just after I had completed my RN training.

Explanation of Mask: Red describes my sensitivity toward people and things around me as well as my passion and drive for things I believe in.  The cross represents how my faith plays into my journey of brain injury.  The question represents my wondering about how life will turn out for me now.   The tears represent my sadness over losing my different careers.  The feathers represent my playful fun side.

Name:  Zane

City: Durham, NC

Brain Injury: I was on my motorcycle and was rear-ended

Explanation of Mask: After one of the worst days of my life, several surgeries, and paralysis on my left side, we were transported to UNC.  My mask is “split” to represent two different people that are one in the same- my identical twin sister and myself.  The eyes are left bold and open because I had not control to open my eyes and no function but was able to see and hear after my accident when they didn’t think I could.  “Pretty Smart” covers the mouth because it’s a blunt statement out of my words I now have.  “I am what I make up” represents everything we do and how we illustrate ourselves and there is no changing it.  My sister and family are everything to me, my comfort, companions, support through this traumatic event.  Two nail polish bottles are “girly girl” to me as my twin sister came to the hospital to give me a pedicure.  The pink  on the mask/background are because pink will always be my favorite colors (before and after the accident) because it just makes me happy.  I won’t change and will continue to feel like myself as this mask represents the accident and after as a reminder of who I want to continue to be.

Name:  Javaan L

City: Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: I was on my motorcycle and was rear-ended

Explanation of Mask: N.C. My mask explains my Heritage.  I look Black when you see me, but I a Puerto Rican.  I understand it more than I can speak it, so I scare a lot of people when they speak Spanish and I never answer in English.

Name:  Timothy H.

City: Cary, NC

Brain Injury: First one was hitting deer while on a motorcycle going 60 mph.  Next- had a seizure and rolled a car over.  Then I overworked a 12 hour shift and had a seizure again from bacterial cerebral meningitis.

Explanation of Mask:  I am attempting to paint accurately.  I used to have a black mustache but my daughter helped it turn grey.

Name:  Barbara L.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury:Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Loretta W.

City: Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury:I was in living in an Abusive Household while in the Military and felt I could not get out.  My husband was also a soldier.  I felt I was in danger every day.

Explanation of Mask: My mask is divided into sections about: How the Brain Injury affected me, How I am presently coping with it, and How I want my outcome to be.  I felt very alone, embarrassed, invisible and I spent time in a Mental Health Hospital in Orlando, Florida.  I was told that “They Won’t Believe You!” Those words cut worse than anything because after 11 years of my fight with disability, it proves that those words were right.


Name:  Anna L.

City: Gibsonville, NC

Brain Injury:I was in a car accident in Ecuador.  The brakes froze in the vehicle and we crashed.  I was ejected from the vehicle.

Explanation of Mask: My mask is decorated with its own mask to represent the new way I look at life.  The colors in the mask represent this new outlook.  The colors from afar are also in the shape of a brain, to represent my brain injury. Pink: Youthful Outlook.  Orange: Energetic/Enthusiasm.  Purple: Romantic/Love power.  Yellow: Happy.  Green: Stability.  White: Health and Focus.  Black/Red: Reclaiming Power.

Name:  Laura B.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Mark B.

City: Clayton

Brain Injury: From a Fall

Explanation of Mask: Now is during the Pandemic.  The Red means how mad I was right after the accident.  The Blue is how I began to settle down over time.  But now another thing has come pass… the Covid-19 with a mask.

Name:  Paul

City: Stedman

Brain Injury: At work, fell on the ice.

Explanation of Mask: N.C. Tarheel fan

Name:  Bill C.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Christopher

City: Cary

Brain Injury: Someone assaulted me

Explanation of Mask: My mask shows that I love comedy.  I’m a Miami fan.  I chose blue because it’s my favorite color.  I feel like I was born to love and make comedy.

Name:  Kimmy

City: Apex

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of Mask: I am unable to speak now.  I will never give up.  I’m tired and I’m confused   Where is my little girl, Rory?  Why are all my friends married, with children now?  I want my life back the way it was.  What day is it?  Where are you Rory?  Why does her dad have her and not me?  Where did he move with his new wife?  I hear everyone.  Mom asked me a yes/no question.  How do I get the yes out?  Damn, I’ve got this.  I am going to walk one day.  Yes, of course I am.  I’m an overcomer.   I’m an Army Captain.  I’m a paratrooper.  I’ve served in combat! Where are my friends? I’m tired.  I want to see my Rory.

Name:  Terry C.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Thai

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: It happened back in the 2000’s on Halloween day.

Explanation of Mask: The mask shows past, present, bullying, hope, loss, and interest.

Name:  Casey

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Matt

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: I was in a car accident that gave me a brain injury, so now I’m here to become a smarter person.

Explanation of Mask: To show how everyone should always be happy because the Lord is always with you no matter what.  This is why you should always be happy.

Name:  Chad

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: TBI gun shot wound damaged my frontal lobe and destroyed both eyes.

Explanation of Mask: 2016 gun shot went  through the temporal lobe-exiting the other side:  the bullet destroyed my eye, leaving me blind.  Also, a portion of my frontal lobe was destroyed leaving me hurt, frustrated, and angry.

Name:  Mitchell M.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Henry F., Jr.

City: Winston-Salem

Brain Injury: Ran off the road through a fence. Top rail of fence came through my windshield and hit my forehead.

Explanation of Mask: The scar on my mask is where the rail hit me.  I had a concussion and am now blind in my right eye.


Name:  Justin V.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Larry

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: 5.5 in coma and rehab in Pitt (Greenville) Memorial Hospital.

Explanation of Mask: Before and after I was told what would happen if I kept living like I was.  No, it won’t, but it did.  Things I have gained and learned since my TBI.

Name:  Jenny T.

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Automobile accident

Explanation of Mask: At 19, I was driving a car when someone hit me.  I had finished my first year of college, active in sports, modeled and loved life.  I am now confined to wheel chair, and I have short-term memory loss.  I am a high-spirited woman who prides myself in being independent as possible.  I now live in a group home in the Goldsboro area.

Name:  J. P. B.

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Traumatic motorcycle accident when someone pulled out in front of me.  I fractured my scapula, C6 and C7 and a compound fracture on both sides of my right ankle.

Explanation of Mask: This explains how my temperament has changed.  During times of stress, I am frustrated and confused and fear kicks in.  Calmness is a result of not feeling stressed, along with being hopeful and clear minded.  The red represents anger and the green represents growth.  I feel like I am pulled in between fear and hope.  Traumatic brain injury is a duplicitous state, the letting go of the old me and embracing the new me.

Name:  Ben M.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Jeff S.

City: Salisbury

Brain Injury: Motorcycle accident

Explanation of Mask: I graduated from Appalachian University.  I worked at AT&T and was in the military.  I have a wife and family.  I was planning to attend my daughter’s school for a teacher conference.  I left on a motorcycle and was hit by a truck.  My life has completely changed since my accident.  The one constant is country music and basketball.  I like staying at the group home and the people I live with.

Name:  Marylen

City: Fayetteville

Brain Injury: My brain injury is from six years of domestic violence.  He would bang my head on terrazzo floors, outer corners of walls and punched my head.

Explanation of Mask: Yellow is because he was a coward.  The Band-Aids on the brain shows how many concussions.   Blue-black is for the contusion on my brain.  The outline of the face is a puzzle because pieces in my life don’t always fit anymore. Lucifer is the fact he was the devil.  Tears represent I always cried and I was blue.  The “Be a Story Worth Telling” represents my story- I am a survivor! The “?” is “why.” The mask is a mess like my life.  My eyes are blank because I did not want to see his angry face.

Name:  Annette P.

City: Reidsville

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask: I was going on about my normal life at work.  I went on break and sat down and had a stroke on the rights side of my brain.

Name:  Donte B.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Eric P.

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Hit on the head

Explanation of Mask: I was 15 and on my way to a scout meeting.  The door of the truck opened, and I leaned my head out and the door hit a telephone pole.  The door slammed back on my head.  I was in a coma for 7 months, and I was in the hospital for well over a year.  The green on my mask represents forest, fields and happiness.  I was the winner of 2 science fairs.  I was a chemist, and I loved science.  My plan was to be a scientist when I grew up.  My faith is who I am.

Name:  Heather M.

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Hit by a car, and I was in a coma for 3 months.  I had a very close to death experience, and I know there is a God.

Explanation of Mask: The chains around represent my mask represent hardships.  The hearts mean love, love in the center, and all the love I received while I was in a coma.  The “survivor” represents me after I was in a coma- I am a survivor. The colors are pretty.

Name:  Billy L.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Pollyana S.

City: Jacksonville

Brain Injury: Domestic Trauma, Sexual Abuse

Explanation of Mask: Life always goes well when you suppress the darkness of the past.  I was living a good life, feeling great, was on the mission field and even leading praise and worship.  Until….I crashed one day, and the darkness of depression opened the memory of sexual abuse I suffered as a child which was more than I could bear.  Those who believed and counted on me could not understand why I could not come out of my darkness which was even more difficult for me to face.  They didn’t know of my shame and I could not put voice to it. But I am learning bit by bit that there is a brighter day for me, and I strive not to let the darkness win.  It will not win!

Name:  Allysa L.

City: Clayton

Brain Injury: Hypoxia at birth.  The umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck, cutting off oxygen. 

Explanation of Mask: My mask represents my life picture and my son.  The spoon represents work since I’m working now.  The pink side has positive words and happy.  Pink and purple are my favorite colors.  I usually wear a lot of red lipstick, so I made the lips red.  The blue over the eyes represents the blue eye shadow I wear.

Name:  Stephanie N.

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Car Accident

Explanation of Mask: I was driving home and a drunk driver hit my car.

Name:  Catherine

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  John H.

City: Vanceboro

Brain Injury: Automobile Accident

Explanation of Mask: When I was 28, I had an accident while driving after consuming alcohol.  I was a farmer and enjoying life.  I choose to make the best out of every situation.  I live at Renu Life in Goldsboro, and I enjoy each day here.  I love to ride, be outside, and walk!

Name:  William S.

City: Farmville

Brain Injury: Fall

Explanation of Mask: I was a supreme fisherman and sailor.  I fell 10 feet off a pier onto rocks.  Even though I can understand what you are saying, I have a difficult time expressing myself.  The black indicates the difficult time expressing what I want to tell them people.  I have a family who I love unconditionally.

Name:  Jerome F.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Josh G.

City: Winston-Salem

Brain Injury: Loss of oxygen flow to the brain

Explanation of Mask: Blue represents water.  I am a person most of the time, so I am happy for each day that I get.  I enjoy going to the beach when I can get there.  I like to bird watch, and I like the spring.  Orange represents the sunrise.  The feather represents the birds.  When I go to my mom and dad’s house, we watch the birds and they put food into the bird feeder.  I’m thankful for each day.  When I can, I like to watch the sunrise. Sometimes the sunrise and sunset are artistic with the clouds.

Name:  Albert S.

City: Rutherford

Brain Injury: Minor TBI- Gunshot with 45 Pistol

Explanation of Mask: I am happy.  Singing music enlivens my heart. My favorite bible phrase is “fear no evil because though art with you.” My brain injury disabilities are minor when compared to what I love and can do on this planet.  I’m here because God saved my life.

Name:  Matt D.

City: Garner

Brain Injury: I was in an automobile accident.  I have a brain injury and have some issues with memory.

Explanation of Mask: Carolina blue because I am a UNC fan.  “MD” is my initials.  My family is very supportive, and I have many friends now.  I am friendly and respectful to them.

Name:  Tony S.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Cheryl H.

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: I was in an automobile accident at the age of 16.  I was with two of my friends, I was in a coma for three months.  I am now 45 years old.  I was coming home from a party and had been drinking alcohol. 

Explanation of Mask: My mask is red, representing blood.  I remember blood when I had my accident.  My family is important to me and are very supportive.  I am soft spoken.  I enjoy going to the beach, and I enjoy playing outdoors.  Brain injury is not easy, but with a positive attitude and family support, life is somehow somewhat easy.

Name:  Sandy

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: I have been involved with brain injury rehab for 10 years or so.  I am 70 years old and I am really ready to go home with my family.

Name:  Mark R.

City: Fayetteville

Brain Injury: Fall

Explanation of Mask: I was living in Pa with my wife and was working on a garbage truck.  The truck swerved to miss a car and I lost balance and fell off of the truck.  My head hit the pavement.  After my accident I had to learn to walk and talk.  I am still making progress but slow…I sing like Johnny Cash and love to draw.  I love the stability of living at RenuLife Group Home in Goldsboro.  My family is still supportive.

Name:  Anonymous

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Keon P. F.

City: Durham

Brain Injury: A car accident

Explanation of Mask: My mask shows how far I have come in my journey.  I enjoy playing basketball, listening to music and rapping.  I enjoy eating food and want to show love to the most supportive person my mother (Monica)

Name:  Bryan S.

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Right Brain Stroke

Explanation of Mask: The mask represents the things I am thankful for in my life.  I was able to accomplish a lot despite my injury from the stroke.  I was able to be my son’s best man and stand beside him at the altar.  I was also able to pick my daughter up again, her and I learned to walk together.  My brain is colored grey due to the feeling of lost and loss of lie.  But I use prayers and God to get me through the hard times.  This has been an awakening for my life and my health.

Name:  Carson T.

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Hit by a car

Explanation of Mask: I was walking to middle school when a car ran off the road and hit me.  I am now non-ambulatory, but I can push my own wheelchair.  Even though I cannot speak, I sign, understand English, French, Spanish, and Japanese.  I have some short-term memory, but I consider myself to be very intelligent.  I am inspired by writing and drawing.

Name:  Amber M.

City: Beulaville

Brain Injury: Meningioma Tumor

Explanation of Mask: October 19, 2016, my life changed when I was diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumor. I was supposed to have surgery December 2016, but then I found out I was blessed again with another child, so it was postponed to September 29, 2017.  On September 29, I was scared for life! But, I was blessed by the Lord, and I am recovering with minor issues.  I feel amazing, grateful my life feels better today than it has in 10 plus years.  I can’t thank everyone enough on how great I feel.  My life is only going to get better from here on out because I am a survivor of brain tumor surgery! Thank you, UNC! Go Heels!

Name:  Bunce S.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Widgie K.

City: Rocky Mount

Brain Injury: Encephalitis and surgery to remove part of my brain because the disease had killed a part of my brain and brain stem.

Explanation of Mask: My mask tells and shows how after almost dying from my illness and surgery, so many people loved me, prayed for me and helped me through all the adjustments in my life.  I am confident, determined, grateful, hopeful and extremely inspired and confident that I will live a terrific life too.

Name:  D’Ann S.

City: Rocky Mount

Brain Injury: Craniotomy and Stroke

Explanation of Mask: The blue side represents that I was depressed, and now I am fearless.  The gold represents calmness, confidence, and creativeness, so I came home to North Carolina.

Name:  Tony P.

City: Weaverville

Brain Injury: Workplace accident caused by an 80lb flying object

Explanation of Mask: One of my biggest issues is my memory.  The lightning bolts represent my brain’s short circuits.  Changes have happened in my life as a result of the brain injury including fear, insomnia, organization, and processing.  What used to be difficult are easy for me now, including crying overwhelmed, distracted and angered.  The blue around the left eye represents where I was hit.  One of my major challenges is balance in my life. I have obsessive compulsive disorder.  The scales represent who I am now, bottomed out.  I look forward to the person I will become, to be able to manage it better.  There are changes ahead.

Name:  Tiffany M.

City: Mebane

Brain Injury: On September 12, 2014, my life forever changed. I had a moderate TBI which impacted my short-term memory, cognitive functions, etc.

Explanation of Mask: I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for God’s miracles.  I am forever grateful.  There are 2 sides to my mask.  The first side (green) represents TBI: depression, fear, memory, dizzy and loss.  The second side (pink) represents my TBI not having me: love faith, miracles, hope, fight, believe, and strong.

Name:  Unknown

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Shauun S.

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Car accident due to the weather.  I ended up in a small lake, and in a coma for 1-2 weeks.

Explanation of Mask: I used the colors blue and orange because they are bright, and I like these colors.  My brain injury has changed my attitude in a positive way.  I pay more attention and have more patience.  After my brain injury, I moved to Goldsboro.

Name:  Wayne H.

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask: Wilmington 10 was a black group in the seventies that stood up for black people’s rights.

Name:  John H.

City: Vanceboro

Brain Injury: Vehicle accident

Explanation of Mask: When I was 28 I had an accident while driving after drinking alcohol.  I was a farmer enjoying life. I chose to make the best out of every situation.  I live at Renu Life in Goldsboro, and I enjoy every day.  I love to ride and look at the outdoors and walk!

Name:  Pamela H.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Rachel C.

City: N/A

Brain Injury: I was driving home in my 1998 VW Beetle and something hit my car from behind, causing my TBI.  I totaled my car.

Explanation of Mask: The background color, yellow, is my favorite color.  And my VW Beetle “bug” was also yellow.  “Scoots”, my little dashboard buddy, was thrown to the back of the car and rescued.  He’s resumed his spot on the dash of today’s transportation.  The growing darkness is my loss of memory in my brain.  The puzzle pieces, themselves, represent a few things I care about, and the overwhelming confusion in my head. The darkness in my eyes represents me taking the time to rest, or retreat outside for a walk, or a quiet place.  Then, sometimes, quickly, questions and ideas are mixed up like little pieces coming together.  Then, I can smile. I always feel my angels around, silently watching over me.  There is lots of love and understanding from my dear family and friends keep me focused.  This helps give me understanding, and the determination to smile and live another day.

Name:  Richard R.

City: Winston-Salem

Brain Injury: Stroke in 2011

Explanation of Mask: My mind feels empty sometimes. There’s things I didn’t want to, or can’t talk about.  The grayness represents some of my loneliness.  I was told some things are best forgotten.  Once, red was happy, before my time in the service.  My memory is inconsistent and unreliable after my stroke.  Anger and frustration are daily.  Yet, somedays I’m not bothered because I’m learning how to cope. Now I can adjust about anything.

Name:  Xavier “Xay”

City: Henderson

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: I choose the color red to represent both my sadness and anger.  Sadness explains how I feel but also angry because I don’t remember anything.  The word “effort” is on my mouth to represent the need I have to stay alive and effort to go through therapy.  Finding my words and expressing myself takes effort and I thank you for that.  Effort for taking the needles, effort for having wires removed from my jaw.  “Victorious” is at the top of my mask because I am closer to my friends and family.  I am victorious after my life was tested in a car crash.  My friendships and family is being tested right now.  I feel victorious with how I came out.  The picture of guys talking looking like whispers, but that’s y’all, my therapists telling me how good I’m doing and encouraging me.  “Fight” because I have to fight to get my life back.  My life is not the same but I’m happy with how everything is going. “Rebuilding” you have to rebuild yourself after an injury.

Name:  DJ R.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Ricky B.

City: Garner

Brain Injury: Automobile Accident

Explanation of Mask: In 1994 I was 14 years old riding my bicycle across Hwy 401 looking for SpaghettiOs.  A car hit me and threw my body back on the car.  The right frontal lobe of my head impacted the windshield. Even though it only left a crack in the windshield, it shattered that region of my skull.  I blacked out and rolled off of the car onto the pavement.  After being in a coma for three months, I went through all kinds of therapy to learn to walk and speak.  I do have short term memory loss.  I love cats, dogs, horses, and birds.  I loved music before and I still do.  My number 1 song is “Stairway to Heaven”, which is 13 minutes and 2 seconds long.  I have always loved the guitar and still love to play the guitar with my brother Joey.  I have learned far more than I have lost.  “Not to take things for granted, and to think before I act.” My mask represents some anger.  The tears represent initial sadness and later joy because I have reached a new boundary.  I added the feather for the big personality I feel that I have.  I live in a group home in Goldsboro, NC.

Name:  Tonia H.

City: Greensboro

Brain Injury: Automobile Accident

Explanation of Mask: Two months after graduating from my x-ray tech program, I was involved in a car accident.  Through this injury, my family opened several group homes and a 24-bed facility for other survivors, as well as others with severe injuries.  It may seem silly, but I am thankful for all that has happened to me because I have met some of the nicest people in the world and many people have been served through a program started in my honor.  The mask represents me after my accident.  My brain felt scrambled.  There is an injury in the left temporal lobe of my brain. Since the injury, there has been a lot of confusion, and I’ve felt lost.

Name:  Bryan H.

City: Elizabeth City

Brain Injury: Fall

Explanation of Mask: At 16, I was with my family at Stone Mountain Park in Midwestern, NC.  I was taking pictures when I lost my balance and fell 5, then 30, then 60 feet.  In the process, I hit my head.  I now have short-term memory.  I loved the outdoor animals.  The green color represents my life, joy, happiness.  Red represents the accident.  The cross stretches from green to black and over my eye.  The cross brings the life to my death.  The light represents how after 35 years I can see clearly that God is what matters in my life.  I choose to be happy.

Name:  Zachary D.

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: I had a TBI while I was in college due to a drug overdose

Explanation of Mask: So my TBI was caused by a drug overdose which I have the Rx design.  I love N.C. State and App State because I went to App State and I grew up in Raleigh so I love State too.  I also love to run which is why I drew myself running.

Name:  Billy M.

City: New Hill

Brain Injury: Stroke during surgery

Explanation of Mask: My mask represents happiness.  Color approach to how I feel about life.  I am a happy camper!

Name:  Laura K.

City: Hope Mills/Fayetteville

Brain Injury: Massive stroke/Brain bleed after medical misdiagnosis

Explanation of Mask: I have many problems that can be solved with services that others need to provide: Period!

Name:  Donte B.

City: Apex

Brain Injury: Gunshot wound to the head

Explanation of Mask: During my long journey over these 6 or so years, I have learned so much, like friends and family are everything and those things and music are the main things that helped me to stay positive.  The new friendships and relationships I have developed have helped too.  I have gone through a ton of different emotions from anger and confusion in the beginning to acceptance and complete happiness with my situation and how far I have come.

Name:  Jessie R.

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Hemorrhagic Stroke

Explanation of Mask: I split the mask into four quadrants going clockwise from top left to represent different phases of my life.  1) Before brain injury life was easier, calmer and simpler.  2) While sustaining the injury it was dark.  I was not present; my love ones were left to wonder if I would survive.  It was as if I lost limbo.  3) My life is now harder, more complicated in a good way.  I married my wife who has supported me.  Things are clearer as to my path forward.  4) The blue represents the clear blue skies and calm seas I expect to see as I sail off into the sunset in the future.  This is my happy ending to which I am hard at work.  The starburst in the upper right quadrant near the midline represents the explosion of the blood vessel in the middle of my brain.  The kissing couple and beach chairs represent my current happiness with my wife.

Name:  Jordan S.

City: Selma

Brain Injury: Tire exploded causing vehicle to hit mailbox, property marker, telephone pole, three trees and a house. Airbags never deployed, seatbelts never worked.  Sat unconscious for three hours before found.

Explanation of Mask: Painted green for favorite color.  Target symbol represents where brain damage and two strokes occurred.  One star over eye is for my wife who stood through it all with me and never left my side.  Four stars overhead represents my four children who are my inspiration to keep moving forward.

Name:  Mike R.

City: Cary

Brain Injury: H.S./College athletics, in car accident, force impact trauma.  Multiple concussions with final injury resulted in frontal lobe sheering.

Explanation of Mask: After multiple athletics related concussions and severe car accident my cognitive-problems were undiagnosed and not very problematic.  Random traumatic accident years later caused severe problems that were not treated or dealt with because I “looked fine and healthy”.  My mask looks like my normal face but the impact on forehead resulted in severe depression, cognitive problems and years of hard work just to maintain a somewhat normal resemblance of life.

Name:  Anonymous

City: Reidsville

Brain Injury: TBI; Post-Concussion Syndrome

Explanation of Mask: Car crash on January 28th 2018.  I am stronger, smarter and braver than I ever could have imagined.  I want to share my story so others will never give up.

Name:  Tamika L.

City: Knightdale

Brain Injury: Hemorrhagic Stroke/Ruptured Aneurysm

Explanation of Mask: Most important things to me: what occurs, how I react.  The blue side represents the challenges as a result of the injury: memory loss, loss of relationships with friends/family, brain pains, self-doubt.  The yellow represents how I combat: God, my faith, husband, new experiences, encouraging others. Surviving a rupture is an invisible disability, which few choose to recognize as a real disease.  Thankful for each day.

Name:  Tasha S.

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: I was in a car accident when I was three years old.  I went through the windshield.

Explanation of Mask: Blue represents spending more time with my daughter and her taking care of me.  Gold represents three strokes.  Red represents my dad.  I lost my dad in May of 2016.  I feel so sad about that because he’s not around.  I have so much love for my dad because I miss him so much.  I am a helpful person, and my family means a lot to me.

Name:  Caleb A.

City: Wendell

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: I was 19 when I received my brain injury.  I’ve suffered from memory loss and slow processing.  The mask shows me with the freckles and glasses.  The treble cleft shows my love for music because music is one of  my few skills I use often.  The mouth is smiling to show how much I love to smile.  The glasses are mine but they show my love for reading.

Name:  Dave B.

City: Cary

Brain Injury: I obtained my brain injury on my journey to work at IBM on December 5, 2001.  I was 30 years old and a very large box-truck crushed the driver side of my Ford F-150 truck.

Explanation of Mask: I graduated from Penn State (represented by blue) and from Purdue (represented by purple).  I don’t have any idea how close to death I was after my car crash, but after my 2nd operation, I was lucky again.  Jesus Christ, as he said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life.  Nobody comes to the father except through me”.  I was so blessed to graduate from Penn State and Purdue and to have interned at Caterpillar, IBM and Ford Motor company.  Praise be to Jesus Christ for my eternal life.

Name:  Javaan L.

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: TBI from motorcycle accident

Explanation of Mask: I feel incomplete.  Depressed.  Difficulty making my body work with my thoughts.  My blue face represents the way I feel.  The orange spot on my forehead represents the way my mind feels right now.  The heart means the love that I have for everyone and the star on my face tries bring a smile to everyone’s face I come in contact with.

Name:  Tim P.

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of Mask: Angered feelings about people and now I have more sympathy.  When your growing, you don’t think about what might happen to you, and have the world by the tail and if there was something I could do about it I would. Hopefully I’ll get a job and be able to help people in the shape that I am in.

Name:  Roy M.

City: Willow Springs

Brain Injury: Epilepsy

Explanation of Mask: One half represents that I want out of my life.  I like racing, family, security, challenges, and fairness.  One side of my brain is bigger than the other.  The three colors represent the different sides of the brain.

Name:  Dean P.

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Scooter incident in Mexico, 1 month coma, punctured lung, 9 fractured ribs, lost use of my left arm (nerve damage)

Explanation of Mask: Left side: Top of the world accident 2012.  Right side: Not sure of how much I will return to normal.  I have trouble explaining how I feel or what I am experiencing.  I have found having a structure with my daily routine is helpful.  I am easily overwhelmed and I am worried about compartmentalizing routines.  I went from the top of the world to climbing a gentle hill.

Name:   Becky M.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name:  Don M.

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Blast Injury/Parkinson’s Disease

Explanation of Mask: I feel incomplete.  Depressed. Difficult to make my body work with my thoughts.  My blue mask represents underwater which is how I feel.  The black hole on my forehead represents that my mind doesn’t work properly.

Name:  Angela T.

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Hit by an 18-wheeler while driving home from a Yankees baseball game in NYC.

Explanation of Mask: Angela 1 died on July 31st 2008 and Angela 2 was born the same night.  My newlywed husband was killed in the car crash and I was flown to medical center with broken ribs, a fractured scapula and C1 vertebrae.  I was a Glasgow Coma Scale of 3.  Angela 1 was a VP of a PR firm.  Angela 2 is a widow who sleeps more, gets lost occasionally and is more easily confused or distracted.  The multicolored gap symbolizes the 6-week coma where an old self was healing and a new me was emerging.

Name:  Kelly P.

City: Jacksonville

Brain Injury: Car accident in 1996. The driver fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the center line.

Explanation of Mask: Before and after my brain injury.  The left side of the face represents before the accident.  I performed, danced, and was a vocal singer.  Love of music.  The right side of the face represents me after my brain injury.  I strive to be fit and strong.  I work hard, and it can be challenging at times.  I miss performing and being able to sing.

Name:  Jennifer B.

City: Greensboro

Brain Injury: Automobile accident

Explanation of Mask: I was 16 in 1995 when I pulled out in front of a tractor trailer truck.  Purple is my favorite color and sunflowers are my favorite flower.  I believe in the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost which gets me through the day.  I push myself every day to become better physically and mentally.  Since my accident, I have learned to talk, stand, and communicate very well.  I am loving life!

Name:  Sally M.

City: Greensboro, NC

Brain Injury: Ongoing complications from a car accident. A car turned left into my path in 2007

Explanation of Mask: The words on my mask represent struggles, paths toward healing, and opportunities. The green spiral represents a new outlook in recovery and the flower represents the beauty of renewal and new growth. The picture and colors on the rim of the mask represent the time to appreciate a different sunset each day. The holes punched represent that, while the substance of intelligence and memory remain intact, there are many gaps that present challenges and the need to create new ways of recall, utilization and expression.

Name:  Sarah H.

City: Dunn

Brain Injury: Car accident on September 12, 2014.  My car flipped multiple times, and I was found unconscious. 

Explanation of Mask: On top of all the cognitive and emotional impairments, and other hardships, I have experienced, I struggled with getting others to understand my TBI.  If you haven’t personally experienced a brain injury, then you can’t fully comprehend it.  Because people couldn’t fully understand what I was going through, they refused to accept it. I split my mask in half to show how I truly feel on the inside, versus how I feel others see me and expect me to act.  I chose pink because it is my favorite color.  This side represents how I am expected to act and includes the words “expectation, happy, smile, cheerful, and good health”.  The gray side represents how I feel and has the words “reality, depression, memory, headache, dizzy, overwhelmed, anxiety, coping, and pain three times”.  Down the middle of the mask, on both sides I have “you look fine” which is something I’ve heard often.  I am lucky to be alive and stronger than you may think.

Name:  Roger H.

City: Reidsville

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask: I had a car accident in 2014.  I fractured my sternum and then I threw a clot and had a stroke.

Name:  Ralph B.

City: Brevard

Brain Injury: Stroke in October/November of 2016.  I went to the hospital, and after two months, I went to the VA.  I’ve been at the VA ever since.

Explanation of Mask: My mask is gray because that is how I feel.  I feel lost.  The tornado funnel show that I feel like all my thoughts  are all screwed up.  The hand represents friendship.  Friendships helps me feel like I’m not alone.

Name: Judy B.

City: Wilmington

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of Mask: While living in Tennessee, I was driving home from work, around Lookout Mountain, and I ran off the mountain.  I was thrown out of the car because I was not wearing a seatbelt.  I was in a coma for 2 and a half months.  Prior to the accident, I worked at Eckerd Drug.  After my accident, I had to learn to do everything again.  I have difficulty communicating at times.  I am a strong person.  God has a plan for me.  My mask represents me.  I like jewelry, makeup, and I like to dress up.

Name: Veronica L.

City: Morganton

Brain Injury: Hit by a county trash truck

Explanation of Mask: I use to love to party and dance at school.  The gold around the eye is costume makeup.  I made hair out of feathers.  I am always sad and don’t have much reason to be happy.  I don’t have anyone except for my boyfriend to encourage me.   I have more dark days than I have good ones.  I feel like my mind is blank all of the time.

Name: Russell K.

City: Franklin County

Brain Injury: Dirt Bike Accident

Explanation of Mask: I was 26 when I had a dirt bike accident, running over 80 miles per hour.  When I had the accident, my head hit the tree.  I was in a coma for a month.  I can no longer stand by myself, but I can make some steps.  Even though I seem okay, I can’t remember what happened an hour ago.  The thinking smiley face represents  my frustration with short-term memory.  I thank God that I am still living, and I can make a conversation.  I enjoy country music and basketball.  I have a very supportive family that comes to see me every three to four months.

Name: Rudolph S.

City: Rocky Point

Brain Injury: By Cardiac Arrest

Explanation of Mask: Expression of how I feel

Name: Katie N.

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: Joy, no worries, being happy.  Carolina blue for my favorite color, and lashes to represent my “girly” personality.

Name: Ryan P. 

City: Huntersville

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: Painting was one of my passions before my brain injury.  I enjoy waterskiing, sky diving and going to eat at Hooters.  My favorite team is the Tennessee Volunteers!

Name: Brendan M.

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: I feel like I’m forever internally crying and heartbroken.  I feel like I’m told I’m always wrong because people don’t understand what a brain injury does to someone.

Name: Allie C.

City: Mooresville

Brain Injury: Viral Encephalitis at Age 2

Explanation of Mask: I have a two-sided mask because I used to have seizures from viral encephalitis that made me feel confused and lost in a maze.  Now the seizures are gone and my mom said that the first thing I said when my vision came back was, “Look at the pretty flower”.

Name: Bob R.

City: Mooresville

Brain Injury: Brain Tumor

Explanation of Mask: Patch over my eye because my vision is impaired.  Fork in the road for feeling lost, abandoned and uncertain; I am not going down the path I wanted for my life, but I am still grateful for being here.  Smile to remind people to never give up!

Name: Chris N.

City: Huntersville

Brain Injury: Fall at Age 50

Explanation of Mask: The forehead represents how my memories sink like quicksand.  Yellow for happy feelings, grey for sadness related to changes following my injury, and green because that is the color I connect with when I’m outdoors. 

Name: Eric B. 

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Passenger in a Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: I feel on top of the world, grateful for everything; feel alive!  Serpentine rock because it’s the official state rock of my home state of California.

Name: Kevin L. 

City: Cornelius

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: Represents how a head injury never ends…it just opens you up to more possibilities!

Name: Jordan H. 

City: Huntersville

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: My mask represents the great spirit of the bear. I believe the bear is my spirit animal guide. When I struggle through my rehab, I look to that bear to give me the strength to push on. The war paint represents my strength and the purple represents the wisdom it takes to overcome a terrible ordeal. I placed my handprint on the mask to show what I received from the spirit animal guide. I am happy.

Name: Preston S. 

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: I painted my mask blue to represent the difficult times in my life. The fuse between my eyes depicts my short temper and how I tend to say things before thinking first. I find myself frustrated often because I don’t understand or learn things the way I used to. I am consumed by feelings of anxiety, depression, and worry about how my future will turn out. I placed the image of a man biting his nails over my mouth to represent my nervous energy. My brain injury happened when I was active duty serving in Germany, and I am a proud veteran of the US Army.

Name: Rick 

City: Cary

Brain Injury: Struck by a motor vehicle while walking

Explanation of Mask: I exercise to improve my balance.  I like the color red because it represents being “outspoken” to me.  I am a master craftsman with an excellent work ethic.

Name: Robby M.

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Gunshot wound resulting from a home invasion at age 19

Explanation of Mask:Teardrop, pocket watch and infinity symbol represent: mourning of time lost, time passes so slowly now, and fear of being in this condition forever. Crack in space/time under left eye is a symbol of the past breaking through, my inability to run from it, and how Dr. Who got me through the darkest times, made me smile and showed me the man I want to be. Forehead depicts the bullet hole, post-traumatic stress and anxiety I face. The storm in my head never calms, transfer of energy from the evil that tried to end me, and fuels my purpose to overcome this evil.


Name: Ryan W.

City: Waxhaw

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident at Age 26

Explanation of Mask:I don’t remember any of my past.  I used to own many reptiles.  I feel my personality is like a monitor lizard because I try to blend into my environment.  Mountains and blue water represent happy to me. 


Name: TJ

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Closed wound, Basilar skull fracture, Temporal bone fracture

Explanation of Mask:My brain injury makes me feel lost, alone and misunderstood. My head is constantly confused. Each day I am trying to understand the new me as represented by the colors on the right side of my mask. The top shows my brain now, connections that are newly forming that lead to nowhere it seems. Each day I find new reasons for hope and I remind myself how much I have survived. Please have compassion for my unseen disabilities. I’m trying.


Name: Tricia I.

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Forceps injury during birth

Explanation of Mask:Hamster wheel because I am anxious and worry a lot.  Cork is for how I bottle up my feelings, tears about a broken heart, and purple representing feelings of warmth, safety, and loving myself. 


Name: Liz

City: Leicester

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: I chose yellow faint lines because I am shy around new people and crowds. The brown cross represents how important my faith is in my life. I have purple lines to represent my extreme paranoid tendencies and my intelligence. The red footsteps are my enthusiasm for walking again. The orange heart represents that I’m a confident individual and secure in myself. I have good relationships with the people that are close to me. Overall, my mask is a good representation of my journey so far, and my lifelong recovery process.


Name: Charles

City: East Flat Rock

Brain Injury: I was drunk and fell 2 or 3 stories out of a window in Fletcher, NC.

Explanation of Mask: The orange represents my confidence and a slight lack of discipline. Green is for my sometimes controlled behavior. The dots represent inward anger that builds up and turns outward. The pointed lines are for intelligence. The quote on the forehead is from the Bible. When Jesus comes up out of the water, His Father says this. The purple mouth represents controlled reactions, self restraint and discipline. Both of my hands shake which is hard for me to control. The shaking comes from my brain which, as you know, was injured. I am taking some supplements to help the shaking to cease but it is taking a long while. I have only been taking them for a year which is nothing compared to my actual age. Having a brain injury though makes me feel determined and curious about what the future will hold for me.


Name: Jason

City: Fletcher

Brain Injury: In 1994, I was hit in the head by someone’s fist and then fell to the cement floor.

Explanation of Mask: I chose yellow because it was my grandma’s favorite color and I love that color. The blinders represent what I can and cannot see, because my occipital lobe was injured. I put a bible verse over my mouth because I want to spread the gospel everywhere I go. The jagged lines represent my heart being broken. While I was in a coma my dad was murdered and my Uncle Bob was killed in a car crash. They were the only two men in my life. I had a fiancé, who is the mother of my child, and she left me. The unbroken heart represents all of my loved ones and the new loves I have found since my brain injury. The tassel represents my accomplishments after my accident, including graduating from high school. Having a brain injury makes me feel like I am a survivor!


Name: Nicole

City:Spruce Pine

Brain Injury: I was in a car accident when I was 16.

Explanation of Mask: The scar over my right eye represents the part of my brain that got hurt during my accident. The blue is for my eye color. My brain injury makes me feel bad because I had a car accident when I was 16, but it makes me feel good because I am alive to be with everybody else. Being around other people makes me happy. Flowers below my nose represent losing my sense of smell and the bowling alley is for my love of bowling.


Name: Pat

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Stroke in 1991

Explanation of Mask:I woke up one morning and there it was. My stroke makes me feel like I am slower than other people. My intention was to be military for the rest of my life and make it a career. That ended when I had my first stroke while I was serving in Germany as a nurse. My mask is purple because purple is my favorite color and the tears represent my mom dying.


Name: Tim

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Anoxic brain injury from multiple heart attacks as an infant

Explanation of Mask: The scarred and stitched red mouth represents my often dark sense of humor that I use to make life easier to deal with. The blacked out eyes show my often cynical outlook. The burning eyeball thing represents my intelligence and determination. Also, just cuz it’s cool.


Name: Tim

City: Waynesville

Brain Injury: I fell off a tractor

Explanation of Mask: I painted my mask purple to represent love and family. The cross represents my relationship with Jesus Christ. Farming is my favorite thing to do and my family has raised corn and cattle. My favorite person in the whole world is my daughter and one thing we love to do together is ride motorcycles. Before my brain injury, I was also a boiler tube welder in power houses. I am grateful for every morning that I wake up. Thank you, God!


Name: Dale

City: Fletcher

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask: Dale is funny and likes to have a good time. He is also a caring member of his family. His wife’s name is Pam and they have three children and five grandchildren. Dale drew the picture of his family to represent what an important part of his life they are. The mask is covered with newspaper because one of Dale’s favorite past times is to look at the newspaper each day, especially the sports section. Throughout his career Dale has coached football and lacrosse. He likes to stay active by participating in community groups such as Hinds’ Feet Farm and the Asheville Aphasia Support Group, and spending time with family and friends.


Name: Ginny

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Fall at age 4

Explanation of Mask: Hands over my mouth representing my shame, being torn, afraid, unwanted, and sadness. Glitter for my sparkling personality, and stars to show my desire to be a celebrity.


Name: Melanie 

City: Huntersville 

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: “I’m alive”! I like to be alive. I love animals and children, but I’m allergic to cats. Purple is my favorite color. I’m a regular person. Big smile and hazel eyes- “I’m happy”.


Name: Morgan 

City: Lincolnton 

Brain Injury: Loss of oxygen to the brain due to a heart defect

Explanation of Mask: Lightning bolts to represent the firestorm of thoughts in my head. The American flag and dog tags represent my service in the Army.


Name: Darcy G.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name: Bryan

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: High fever from pancreatitis at age 20

Explanation of Mask: My mask is half “serious me”, and half “funny me”, because I’m both.


Name: Jerome

City: Mooresville

Brain Injury: Benign brain tumor

Explanation of Mask: I chose to paint my mask black & royal blue. Black is for my feelings of frustration, darkness and sadness; and blue is for my feelings of love, strength, family and communication. I placed a combination lock over my mouth to represent the times that I don’t feel heard by others. Most importantly, I placed a cross on my forehead to represent the influential role that faith has played in my recovery journey.

*to read more about Jerome’s journey click on link:


Name: Bonnie

City: Mooresville

Brain Injury: Pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle at age 14

Explanation of Mask: I love nature and the sun shining down on me. Flower represents my love of spring, summer and fall when flowers are in bloom. The pack of dogs represents my desire to volunteer at a dog farm.



Name: Wendy K.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name: Stephanie

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Stroke during brain surgery at age 16

Explanation of Mask: I’m like everyone else. I have thoughts and I am smart. I have a brain injury so I get tired easier than most people. I’ve done things most people haven’t, but I can’t always remember them. I just have different ways to remind myself. I have so much going on in my head, that when I go to say it, I usually have forgotten. Sometimes it’s difficult to communicate, but I’ve found everyone responds to kindness and love universally.

Name: Jack

City: Huntersville

Brain Injury: Water Sport Accident

Explanation of Mask: The volcano represents my temper which is very close to the surface of my personality. I attended The University of Florida, so Florida Gators are the best!!



Name: Veronica

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Aneurism

Explanation of Mask: My mask is a representation of what all has been put before me. The cross means my savior has saved me. The heart represents my love towards everything I do. The peace sign comes across as my love. The paw print symbolizes my love towards animals. The sun means there’s always going to be another day. My brain injury has made me become a stronger person.



Name: Yolanda

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Benign Brain Tumor

Explanation of Mask: The green color on my mask represents loyalty. The hand over my mouth indicates how I can’t say what I think. My eyes are blacked out because I now have limited vision. I placed red stripes across the face to show that loyalty isn’t able to help me. The rainbow horse on my forehead represents my love of horses.



Name: Bonner C.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name: Jeeter

City: Kannapolis 

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: The blank mask represents my personality. The injury I sustained erased the person I used to be. It caused a significant change, leaving me with a “blank” personality.



Name: Dan

City: Huntersville 

Brain Injury: Sepsis

Explanation of Mask: The pictures I selected for my mask represent all the things that are important to me. I placed a dam over my mouth showing how my thoughts are held inside because I am unable to speak following my brain injury. I can’t always stop myself from drooling, which explains the dried glue coming from my mouth.



Name: Donna

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Stroke, Transient Ischemic Attacks, and blood pressure induced brain injury

Explanation of Mask: My mask shows how the stroke has changed me. These are the feelings and experiences I have gone through, and the lasting effects on my life: prison inside myself, alone, can’t communicate, can’t see, can’t read or write, weak, feeling inferior, depressed, not worthy of life, a burden.

Name: Eain

City: Boone

Brain Injury: Pushed in Sunday school and bounced my head off a bookcase.

Explanation of Mask: I love college football and LSU is my favorite team. The car, grades, and people on my mask represent achievements after my brain injury. The car for my drivers license, the grades for my diploma, and the people for my job/co-workers. The pink ribbon is for my mom.



Name: Velma C.

City: Unknown

Brain Injury: Unknown

Explanation of Mask: Unknown

Name: Jon

City: Hudson

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident 

Explanation of Mask: “The hat is cool. I wear a hat. I like sports. My dog’s name is spike. I am an uncle with 2 nieces.” 2003 is the year Jon had his accident. He currently attends MindMatters class at Appalachian State. Jon attended Illinois State and studied meteorology before his injury.



Name: Charlie

City: Boone

Brain Injury: Not Disclosed

Explanation of Mask: Orange is my favorite color. I love bowling. I also included the sun and stars. These are all my favorite things.



Name: Aaron H.

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: A motor vehicle accident on a rainy night in 2001. I was 18 years old.

Explanation of Mask: I am serene after my brain injury because I have learned how to cope, and this is what my mask reflects. I am cheerful, happy, courageous, and kind. I cherish my life! I am not afraid. I am determined to succeed.



Name: Dante B.

City: Knightdale, NC

Brain Injury: Self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Explanation of Mask: My mask is dedicated to my Mom who passed away from breast cancer in 2015.  It describes everything she is to me and my siblings.

Name: Allison K.

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: 25+ pound farm tool slamming down on top of my head at work. They call it a “mild” TBI, but it’s been 18 months of struggle.

Explanation of Mask: One of the main sources of happiness and joy in my life pre-TBI was being active and doing things outside. I had a lot of things that brought me joy taken away due to the effects of my TBI, as expressed on the mask. People with TBI strive each day to heal, make accommodations, and find new ways to be happy. Some days it feels like it is not possible, but we have to remind ourselves every day that it does get better. Bad days will pass, and we will thrive. This mask-making was helpful because it makes the internal struggles of TBI apparent to others. This injury is invisible!



Name: Alyssa L.

City: Clayton

Brain Injury: Hypoxia at Birth

Explanation of Mask: My brain injury happened at birth. My family and friends have helped me through tough times. I painted a heart to show how my love for others. I used bright colors to show how happy I am. Everyone is different, and I just want to be understood. People should try to understand others, even though it may be hard.



Name: Andrew M.

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: A seizure caused my brain injury.

Explanation of Mask: I am determined, different, playful, relaxed, sympathetic, curious, and wise. The red on my mask shows my strength; green and black are for my determination. Cars represent strength. I played soccer before the seizure. I love poetry and am very dynamic!



Name: Benjamin P.

City: New Bern

Brain Injury: Pedestrian hit by a driver that was texting.

Explanation of Mask: The heart represents my life recovered and the love I have for my family. My family helped me recover from my accident, and without them I wouldn’t be able to live the way I do today.



Name: Beverly J.

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask:The colors on my mask represent the following feelings: fabulous (blue), strong for being a clean person (red), fun at heart (green), compassionate (purple), value my family (beige).



Name: Bill S.

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: I was pushed off a 30 foot high pier and landed on my head.

Explanation of Mask: Blue represents my want to be free. I love fishing; it helps me relax and feel like myself. LOVE is written across my forehead because I still love so much, even after my TBI.



Name: Brandon S. 

City: Ivanhoe

Brain Injury: Gunshot

Explanation of Mask: I received a gunshot wound at age 33. Before the accident I was a fisherman and a hunter, and loved to work. Through the accident I have more faith in God and appreciate family more. I’m thankful to be alive. My family was told I would not live, and if I did, I would be a vegetable. God was my healer!



Name: Brian H. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Fell down a mountain over a series of waterfalls in Stone Mtn Park, NC.

Explanation of Mask: Red is for happiness I spent 3 years I Taiwan. I like the way the Chinese use color to represent life. Green is for life. The purple crown signifies royalty. I am a prince of God!



Name: Carson T. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Hit by car when I was 13 and walking to school

Explanation of Mask: It feels like a piece of my brain had an earthquake hit it. I can’t always remember what I want to say. I still remember how to spell things like “antidisestablishmentarianism,” but I can’t speak clearly anymore! I like to make jokes and laugh, but sometimes I feel frustrated.



Name: Bucky 

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Operation for Arterial Venous Malformation.

Explanation of Mask: I am lucky because I have multiple occupations.



Name: Cathy M.

City: Wilmington

Brain Injury: Ruptured Aneurysm 

Explanation of Mask: I need to find my place in life. “Dream big, love big.”



Name: Charles A. 

City: Concord

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident  

Explanation of Mask:The green is for losing my left eye. Light blue for my remaining right eye. The candle represents peace, and the boxing glove signifies that I’m a fighter!!



Name: Cheryl F. 

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Victim of Domestic Violence

Explanation of Mask:Despite my injury, I still feel like a beautiful person inside. I still feel happy. Purple is my favorite color. I like to wear jewelry, because it makes me feel pretty.



Name: Cheryl H.

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident 

Explanation of Mask: Life is like a puzzle; trying to determine “who really cares?” I feel ashamed and indecisive, but I still have faith, courage, romance and compassion.



Name: Christopher D. 

City: Sunbury

Brain Injury: Motorcycle Accident

Explanation of Mask:The Ford represents the two cars I own. They make me very happy. The American flag is the license plate that was on the car that my dad owned.



Name: Christopher L. 

City: Concord 

Brain Injury:Motor Vehicle Accident when I was 21.

Explanation of Mask: Before my accident, I was a straight A student doing well. I worked an electrical job and was making good money. I was planning to enter college and start on a 2 year degree to start an apprenticeship as an electrician. After the accident, I had to go back to learning my ABCs and who my parents were. I work at Rowan Vocational Opportunities now. I do some electrical work and run machines that weld insulators together. I put a cross on my mask because my doctors said I had a 30% chance of walking away. Mom, Dad, and others prayed for me. Then I started going to church. Now I can lead others to the God. Even though brain injuries are traumatic, they can find pleasure in the cross. The stars and flag are for thanks to the troops and veterans who fight for our country. Family, strength, and spirituality will help me lead a healthy life.



Name: Cindi

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident when I was in college

Explanation of Mask: I feel like my life is divided, before the injury and after the injury. I studied French before my injury. I am an incredible, happy person who loves cats, and I am still striving to be a giving part of the community.



Name: Cole L. 

City: Winston-Salem

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident when I was 21

Explanation of Mask: Red represents my favorite color. Yellow is for all the happiness in my life. And I love being outdoors.



Name: Darren

City: Clemmons

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident. I hit a tree going 90 mph when I was 33.

Explanation of Mask: The happy words on my forehead are a symbol of how I feel about life. Laughing is the best medicine; life is too short to not live it to the fullest.



Name: David C. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: I was hit by a car when I was 12 and was in a motor vehicle accident when I was 40.

Explanation of Mask: I guess I’ll never be married and have children. My family is gone. I am sometimes happy and sometimes sad.



Name: David H.

City: Salisbury

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident 

Explanation of Mask: At first I was afraid to lose myself and then I was embarrassed how people now view me as that used to be David. I soon started to climb up day by day, week by week, piece by piece, and believe in the possibility of a thinking system that I can use to improve myself.


Name: David K.

City: Monroe

Brain Injury: Gunshot

Explanation of Mask: Content… Very happy. Purple is my favorite color. Red stands for “heart” and blue for “peaceful.” Family is important, and so is coming to camp and sharing with other people.


Name: Derek S.

City: Winston-Salem

Brain Injury: Hit my head either while jumping on a train I wasn’t supposed to be on, or in jail after the police took me there.

Explanation of Mask: The bird is a thought flying overhead, thinking about nature. I was away from nature in prison. Nature represents freedom and places I cannot go.


Name: Doug C. 

City: Boone

Brain Injury: In 2005, I had a motor vehicle accident. I was 35 years old at the time.

Explanation of Mask: The black represents my anger, the red represents the love I have for my family, and the yellow represents being alive after my brain injury. The road is for my accident, and the silver lines in the road mean that brain injury isn’t all bad.


Name: Drew C. 

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Fell off a 15ft wall at age 20.

Explanation of Mask: The top of my mask represents my extreme head injury from my fall; all of the neurotransmitters being broke loose. It left me as an infant, having to relearn everything. Recovering over the last 14 years has been like going through the stages of life twice. I just have to say, “Never say you can’t!” Why tell your brain, “You shouldn’t even try.” You can…. Just have to do it!


Name: Edwin R. 

City: Concord

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident in 1985

Explanation of Mask: I feel blue. My mask explains how the consequences have left my true self (in memory) locked inside still having some brightness that helps me see and think there is something worth living for, although many times I am misunderstood. Keeping my faith in God through Jesus and wanting to help others keep me up.


Name: Frank N. 

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Hit by a vehicle driven by a drunk driver.

Explanation of Mask: The accident changed my life. I’m a miracle because I spent 76 days in a coma, but I’m here today… walking and living life. I feel loved and am inspired to get better every day. I learned to block out the bad, and accept the good. I added the strips to show I came through it all with flying colors!


Name: Widgie

City: Rocky Mount

Brain Injury: I had 6 seizures and was diagnosed with viral encephalitis. Both the disease and surgery that followed caused my brain injury.

Explanation of Mask: My mask represents me praising God for each day of life, especially after my brain injury. We are all so blessed and we should “embrace it” as best we can. I praise God… my children, my friends… everything is a blessing!


Name: Tasha L.S.

City: Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: I was 3 years old when it happened.  I was in a car accident.

Explanation of Mask: Carolina Blue because I like the Tarheels.  I am a mother, I care about people and I like my story to be short and sweet.

Name: Wen

City: Richland

Brain Injury: In 2001, my left tire blew out, and my car rolled 18 times.

Explanation of Mask: I have great pride in my country because it is an amazing place to live. I painted the top of the mask black because that is where my injury occurred.




Name: Tasha S. 

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Undisclosed, but happened when I was 3

Explanation of Mask: My fiancé and I are a happy family. We will be together forever. My daughter calls him “dada” and that makes me happy. Things are working out between me and him and we will soon get married!


Name: Seth W. 

City: Cary

Brain Injury: Benign brain tumor when I was 10 years old.

Explanation of Mask: I feel forbidden to speak, and feel I’m taken as a joke. I am a poet with a powerful message. Music is my escape from this reality. I feel excluded from the popular cliques.


Name: Scott H. 

City: Durham

Brain Injury: Aneurysm at age 10

Explanation of Mask: Bowling is something I’ve enjoyed and have excelled at since I was in Boy Scouts. I’ve earned 5 bowling trophies in Scouts, and in a special population bowling league. I’m very proud of the fact that that is one of my many accomplishments.


Name: Ronald B. 

City: Garner

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident when I was 4

Explanation of Mask: Emotional, dark appearance…Keeping to myself…Isolated.  The mask look is dark…This is how I dress and feel most of the time.


Name: Mark O. 

City:  Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: Bike Accident while competing in a race.

Explanation of Mask: I love music & playing the guitar.  I used to love to bike& still exercise on the stationary bike.  I also love food. I work hard every day.

Name: Roger D.

City: Cary

Brain Injury: Hit by a Car in 2002 & 2004

Explanation of Mask: My mask is red to show how I feel about my injury. I am angry because I was injured twice while riding my bike and made fun of by people who thought it was my fault. I often felt depressed after my injury, so I painted tears to show that I am sad. I also feel angry, and that’s what the lightning bolt is for.


Name: Robert P. 

City: Cary

Brain Injury: In 2006, when I was 13 years old and skateboarding.

Explanation of Mask: The tears represent my depression because I can no longer skateboard, and because of my lost friendships. I still love playing the piano, and listening and dancing to music.


Name: Robert H. 

City: Hudson

Brain Injury: Car Accident when I was 2

Explanation of Mask: Happy… Content… Calm… Confident… Grateful… and Hopeful. It is good to be alive!


Name: Ricky B. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Hit by a car at age 13; I then slipped on the ice in and hit the back of my head.

Explanation of Mask: Jump Start means I have a second chance at life, an opportunity to undo the errors in my life, to make a better me! Hope is on my forehead to remind me that I need to keep that at the forefront of my mind. The boisterous mixture of color represents my varying emotions.


Name: Raheem

City: Boone

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident in 1997 when I was 23 years old; I overcorrected and hit a light pole.

Explanation of Mask: The brown represents the hardship of TBI. But TBI is not all bad. My brain injury has been a learning lesson. The orange represents the brighter side of TBI. My life has been different as a result; it has taught me to rely on others and on God. I feel I’m here for a purpose.


Name: Norman

City: Washington

Brain Injury: Bicycle Accident when I was 11

Explanation of Mask: When I first had my accident in 1983, I was tormented and made fun of, and felt extremely sad.  Over the years, I’ve started to see that there are people who are in worse positions than me.  I’ve been able to recognize that just because you have a brain injury doesn’t mean that you’re dead. One half of the mask symbolized how I first felt when I had my accident, sad and depressed.  The other half of the mask symbolizes a happy life and being at Camp Carefree with all of the smiling faces.


Name: Michael S. 

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident 

Explanation of Mask: After leaving work, I dropped my phone while driving, went to pick it up, and drove us off the side of a mountain. I fell 180 feet, broke a few bones, and got my TBI as a result.


Name: Mike O. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident 

Explanation of Mask: Mixture of emotions.  I enjoy watching funny movies.  Red represents the tree I hit.  Brown represents the reality of my life.


Name: Mike T. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: I was riding my bicycle as a teenager and was hit by a car running a red light.

Explanation of Mask: Happy & Sad! I show more happiness on the outside. I like working at ReNu Life. DANGER – Do all you care to prevent brain injury?


Name: Monica M. 

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Forceps Injury at Birth

Explanation of Mask: The mark on my forehead indicates where the doctors tapped my skull to drain fluid soon after birth. Yellow is patience. It’s a happy face. I never knew what my body was like before my TBI took it over. It’s just the way it is.


Name:  Sam D.

City: Garner, NC

Brain Injury: My brain injury was from birth.

Explanation of Mask: T I like archery and horses and nerf guns.  I was born in S. Korea and I put their flag on my mask.  Orange=playful.  Green=stable.  Brown=reliability.

Name: Sandy B. 

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Fell on ice at work.  Worked as a truck driver.

Explanation of Mask: I like outdoors.  I like relaxing at the lake.  I like the colors I chose.

Name: Milton

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident in 1990. I was 38. 

Explanation of Mask: I like my mask because my family is Christian. My dad was a pastor in Durham, NC. And I am using my mask as a representation of my Christianity, my heart and soul.


Name: Allen

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: I was hit in the head with a bat.

Explanation of Mask: The mask explains my emotions. Purple is for my violent past, the blue is for controlling my reactions, and red is for my anger I’m trying to control and keep together. The pointed lines are for me to always be on point with whatever I do. These are all my everyday life expressions I deal with.


Name: Josh B.G.

City: Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: When I was 16 years old I inhaled a dry pinto bean that caught in my throat and swelled and cut off oxygen.

Explanation of Mask: The ride side shows how my BI occured.  The pinto bean started small at the bottom of the mask but the effects got bigger and it cut off my oxygen and affected my brain.  The left side shows one of the many things I enjoy- watching sunsets.

Name: Kara B. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Fell down a flight of stairs when I was 32 years old.

Explanation of Mask: Yellow represents the sun because I am happy, and have met so many new friends since my brain injury. Red represents the love growing around my ring of friends. The words represent the things I went through with my brain injury.


Name: Linwood W. 

City: Wilmington

Brain Injury: Hit by truck while riding my bicycle. I was 50.

Explanation of Mask: I am happy because I love surfing and the plants that are in my mom’s garden.  I have wisdom and that gives me the courage for my big, big, giant love!


Name: Mark B. 

City: Clayton

Brain Injury: A fall in 2001

Explanation of Mask: I remember activities and things that I used to be able to do that I no longer can. I sometimes feel frustrated when I am reminded of my previous life and what I can’t do anymore.


Name: Supreme

City: Raleigh, NC

Brain Injury: Car crash

Explanation of Mask: I My mind shifts.  I can control the direction of that.  I discovered that I could control my mind while going through this.

Name: Mark R. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Fell off a garbage truck and hit the back of my head.

Explanation of Mask: The mask represents me after I came out of the hospital and was okay even though I still had a brain injury.  My brother helped me get a divorce and brought me home to NC. I love my brother, his wife, and children very much.  My whole family is fantastic!


Name: Matt D. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident. I was in a coma for 3 months.

Explanation of Mask: My favorite color is the background color of my mask.  The Lord has blessed me.  Without him, I wouldn’t have come back to life. You can overcome it with people and God.


Name: Matthew P. 

City: Richland

Brain Injury: Anoxia, Drug Overdose

Explanation of Mask: Blue is my favorite color. The quote on my forehead represents the confusion and memory loss. Quote on cheek represents family support and love. Summer is my favorite season. Interested in guitar. “Love every minute” in the present.


Name: Jose C.N.

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Brain tumor then a car accident.

Explanation of Mask: I play with duality (contrast between two concepts). I included the American and Colombian flags as I have the honor… or the curse of being from two countries. I also added images to represent both countries. Life includes many positives and negatives, like Yin and Yang. What else do you feel and see?


Name: John J. 

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Benign childhood cancer resulted in an ABI.

Explanation of Mask: My mask is red and black to represent that I am a fan of NC State… Wolfpack! I enjoy being outdoors and working with my hands. I never give up, and feel that I have power over my destiny. I like to set goals for myself, and it feels awesome when I reach those goals.


Name: Ryan C. 

City: Sanford

Brain Injury: Driving while on drugs and high and ran off the road.

Explanation of Mask: The colors are for the college I went to.  I played football in high school.  I’m smart but I tend to forget important things.

Name: Joe B. 

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Bicycle Accident 

Explanation of Mask: Life is like a sport, you find out what you’re good at while growing up, then consistently hone those skills to increase efficiency with each passing year.  The task(s) become more automatic and the quality is satisfactory.  There’s reliability, a certainty that comes with each new day in one’s profession, all is comfortable and progressing well.  The unexpected traumatic brain injury, at age 39, became an all-stop action on my profession, and some cognitive abilities. This injury put me in the position to start over again.  Though not from ground zero, it required me to open-up to a much greater degree than I had experienced before.  I forced myself to go deeper within my heart to identify what was of interest post injury, and still within my capacity level.  What could I do with an acceptable level of competence in our culture that I would fully embrace?  Helping others as a recreation therapist was revealed at the vocational rehabilitation screening.  “I can do this,” was my immediate feeling.  I received help from many new friends as I headed on a journey to become a certified therapeutic recreation specialist.  I use recreation as a tool to help individuals discover their current ability level and maximize their participation in any recreation activity of interest.  My new journey came with many small failures, requiring me to adjust, adapt, and improvise as necessary to achieve acceptable standards on my new career path.  The journey was worth it.  Now it is 15 years post injury, and I’m working part time at Hinds’ Feet Farm. I learned to let go of what no longer served the new me, and I accept my present level of human capacity, interests, and feelings about life’s issues.  I have found a comfort zone with myself and my team of supporters.  Notice my mask and the color of my face.  I admit, my ability to mix paints and generate the natural color of my skin tone deserves an F minus grade.  I am Not green!  Just because I cannot work with paint doesn’t exclude me from participation in this mask project.  I believe in enlivened hope and the joy of living one day at a time with present abilities, including accepting those less-than moments. 


Name: Jenny B. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: I chose purple because it has always been my favorite color. Green and yellow were my high school colors. I love yellow sunflowers because they are bright like the sun, which brings me happiness. I try to stay positive and happy even though my activities are limited. I’m just thankful to be alive!.


Name: Christopher P. 

City: Benson

Brain Injury: While in the Army, I had a motor vehicle accident. It was 3/9/2000.  I was 19 years old.

Explanation of Mask: The yellow and blue represent the abrasions that were left on my brain after the accident. The cross represents how wonderful God has been to me, helping me overcome so many roadblocks. My family is my best support. They have been there helping me the entire way.


Name: Eric P. 

City: Knightdale

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident at 16 

Explanation of Mask: I’ve always liked bright colors. Bright yellow represents my bright future. I want to inspire others to achieve things they never thought they’d be able to do. I don’t want a free pass! I want to be identified as normal; for the man I am; what I stand for, do, and accomplish. A disability is a gift, not a weakness, and can be turned into strength. One of my goals is to be a millionaire so I can give back to the community and give all the glory to my lord and savior, Jesus Christ.


Name: Jeffrey S. 

City: Durham, NC

Brain Injury: Fell down steps at work

Explanation of Mask: The mask represents how I feel.  Happy & peaceful.  The lighthouse represents my love for the ocean. Today was a good day.

Name: Eric S. 

City: Jacksonville

Brain Injury: Hit by a truck when I was 9 years old

Explanation of Mask: Brain Injury gave me a better way of looking at things.  I’m really smart, so I’m getting things done for me now.  The simple way is just doing it but I have to think of it differently.  I hate being on a time limit.  Before the accident, I was on the wrong road.  The accident made me a people person with patience.  I want to be a motivational speaker. The blue is for patience.  The red is for my determination to get a task done. Green is for my education and wisdom.  The gold crown is for positivity.  Purple is for my outspokenness.


Name: Harry G. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Hit while attempting to help someone in a fight while stationed in Germany with the Army.

Explanation of Mask: The red represents my anger for what happened to me and the black represents hatred for the people that did this to me.  I sometimes struggle to forgive.  I am braver than the men who did this to me.


Name: Jamil 

City: Winston-Salem

Brain Injury:Abuse at the hands of my parents as a small child.

Explanation of Mask: had a crappy childhood, but the one happy memory is eating with my neighbor, Mama Debbie. I like living at Lippard Lodge. My favorite thing to do is cook! I included my initials JDG because I really like my name. While I don’t have my family, I have great friends and housemates.


Name: Tonia 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Car Accident at 21

Explanation of Mask: The Ying-Yang because after my brain injury I was so confused.  I knew what I was supposed to be doing, but they wouldn’t let me do it.  I understand now, but I was totally confused.  The pink and purple are for the now.  They represent happiness.  I understand my brain injury and I’m living with it.


Name: Teresa F. 

City: Concord

Brain Injury: Shot in the head at the gun range one day before I was to marry my husband.

Explanation of Mask: The black is where my injury occurred. It is no big deal because things always get better. I always look for things to do, like gardening and book club. My husband, two children and family are important to me. I have worked on a landscaping committee for 10 years.


Name: Tamara P. 

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident in 1996

Explanation of Mask: I was a Presbyterian pastor at a church and for many years after my TBI, I thought I would return to doing this again. I volunteered as a chaplin at a retirement facility until realizing I had too many cognitive limitations to serve as a pastor again. In the Bible, the rainbow was a sign given to Noah, that God would not cause a flood again. For me, the rainbow is a sign of hope. The moon shines in the darkness and reminds me how the Holy Spirit is present in the bleakness of brain injury.


Name: Stephen H. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: I was playing chicken with my best friend while driving ATVs.  We collided. My best friend did not survive.

Explanation of Mask: I’m just relaxing, enjoying the weather, taking my time, mixing these colors.


Name: Starr

City: Waynesville

Brain Injury: Lighting equipment fell, while I was working on stage. I literally had no idea what hit me, just that my nose was crunching in my head as I collapsed. They said it was just a broken nose….then within days things changed.

Explanation of Mask: I wanted to show how different what people see on the outside is from my insideworld. I kept getting told by folks, “well you look good!” as if that is the most important thing. I was foggy headed, dizzy most of the time, constant headaches for 3 years. My vocabulary went from 3 syllables to 4 letter words. No doctors seemed to see or hear me. They said, “There is so much we don’t know about the brain, but no, that can’t be the cause.” Why don’t they want to learn from us? We are going through this, and can inform from the inside of TBI. It has been 5 years now, and I continue to heal and grow; mostly by not giving up or believing, “it is as good as it gets.” We can heal together faster!!!!!


Name: Sherrill K. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Dirt Bike Accident in 1984

Explanation of Mask: The red side of my mask represents when I did not feel whole initially following my accident. Things came back in pieces. The other side of the mask is blue and shows how I feel now. I am more complete because my memories have come back.


Name: Sara P. 

City: Kannapolis

Brain Injury: Encephalitis 

Explanation of Mask: If I was a better artist I would make the mask look like me. I don’t hide my feelings well. A person with brain injury experiences many emotions that someone without a brain injury probably won’t ever have to. I have accomplished a lot after surviving a TBI, but still get very frustrated with the effects that will never go away. It’s definitely true that, “You’ll never understand until you have a brain injury.”


Name: Jeff V. 

City: Elon

Brain Injury: Hit by a drunk driver 

Explanation of Mask: I was at the top of my class, and when I would have graduated I was going to enroll into West Point Military Academy.


Name: Tommy B.

City: Greensboro, NC

Brain Injury: I was on my way to school in the 8th grade. I had a head-on collision on the highway. I flew from my seat into the steering wheel, hitting my head. I was rushed to the hospital and placed in a medically induced coma.

Explanation of Mask: I am thankful for my family, friends and faith. I hate loneliness.  I want to live a full life.  Inch by Inch, Life’s a Cinch.  Meter by Meter, Life is Sweeter.  I have to find new ways to do old things.


Name: Jeffrey E. 

City: Greenville

Brain Injury: Drank beer then rode my moped, hit the curb, flipped and hit my head on the pavement.

Explanation of Mask: I feel angry and ashamed. I am sad about lost relationships and cry a lot. Since the accident, I realize that decisions have consequences. I try not to make the same mistakes. I am the very proud dad of a 7 year old son.


Name: Jennifer T. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Hit by Car

Explanation of Mask: She feels angry and disoriented because she doesn’t get to do half of the things she wants to do since her injury. Sometimes she feels grouchy.  But she thanks God to be blessed to be alive and to meet new people and make friends. Red represents the hurt and disappointment.  The black is for the dark side of me.  She feels loved by her family.


Name: Judy B. 

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident when I was 21

Explanation of Mask: Red represents my favorite color. Yellow is for all the happiness in my life.  And I love being outdoors.


Name: Joshua G. 

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Anoxia at 16 months old.

Explanation of Mask: My mask represents my love of sports. I value my family and friends. I feel I have accomplished some incredible things in my life despite having a brain injury. I love to smile and make other people happy. The doctors say I’m a miracle.


Name: Kat S. 

City: Clemmons

Brain Injury: Passenger in Motor Vehicle Accident when I was 18.

Explanation of Mask: The black side is the part of my brain that is damaged.  My brain is gone.  I feel lonely, angry, confused.  The tears on my cheeks are for my loss of myself. My emotions are deeper now.  I feel love and happiness around others that understand me.


Name: Kenny M. 

City: Concord

Brain Injury: Tumor behind my left eye from neuroblastoma

Explanation of Mask: I’m a prayer warrior praying for the healing of others. I love to sing about Jesus, and I am proud I am a Christian.


Name: Kitty B.

City: High Point, NC

Brain Injury: Car hydroplaned and wrapped around an electronic pole.

Explanation of Mask: I gave up my nursing career but got it back in a different way. I was hurt and disappointed but jubilant about new opportunities.   I like to sing, watch movies, edit books and walking.  Life is good.  I believe in God. My mask represents what I was and who I am now.  SUCCEED!


Name: Kitty B. 

City: High Point

Brain Injury: When I was 24, I had a single vehicle accident after hydroplaning on a rainy day.

Explanation of Mask: Brain injury has such a lack of understanding. It frustrates me! I am cheerful and try to be courageous, but at the same time I am embarrassed. This mask shows my sadness, but it also shows determination. I still have a “normal” face, but I also am covered up by my injury.


Name: Mathieu N. 

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Damage to my right temporal and left frontal lobes from a bicycle/train collision in 1985.

Explanation of Mask: Like most TBI survivors, I feel like my life was divided into two parts by my accident. Prior to that, I was on my way, nineteen years old, accepted to art school, in a serious relationship, and on my way to a new job. The next thing I knew, I was practically paralyzed, with tubes in all my orifices, unable to talk or think. Thirty years later, I have a new life, but one with immense challenges due to problems with learning new things, a tremor in my right arm/hand, and weakness on my right side. I have a hard time controlling my anger. I take medication for seizures, recurring blood clots, and for depression. I am single, when all I wanted was a family of my own. I suffer from insomnia and have lost my self-confidence. I am glad to be alive. There are many, many good things about my life, but it is not the life I expected to be living.


Name: Michael G. 

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Fall and Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: Having had a traumatic brain injury at a young age, I never knew that there was a reason for some of my challenges. Then getting another TBI, as an adult, I thought I had nothing to grieve. After all, I wasn’t dealing with the severe effects that challenged others I knew who had a TBI. Sometimes I sense I’m in a whirlwind spiral when I lose my balance or when I’m overloaded with too many thoughts. It takes conscious effort to peel away layers and open both eyes to the reality of my TBI. And yes, I’ve had a life of springtime growth and mindful engagement with all that is inside and around me. The support of friends and others guides and sustains me on this life journey.


Name: Mike

City: Cornelius

Brain Injury: Brain Clot

Explanation of Mask: You may have an injury, but you will say things your wouldn’t normally say to people so beware!


Name: Paul N. 

City: Hendersonville

Brain Injury: Viral Encephalitis

Explanation of Mask: I contracted herpes simplex virus in Minsk, Belarus. It went to my brain, causing hemorrhaging to occur and damage to the front left part of my brain. The black part of the mask signifies the damaged side, with one or many large tears. Today I exist using only my right side. My happy face signifies my positive, hopeful attitude.


Name: Erin

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Brain Tumor

Explanation of Mask: My mask has many colors painted on it like a rainbow.  I am a very unique individual and have various sides to me.  I react to situations differently and am not afraid to speak my mind.  I am from Texas and have learned that if you have the stuff then “bring it on baby!”  You will never find anyone like me, so don’t try.


Name: Willie M

City: Matthews

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: So many faces in the world, that sometimes it’s hard to find your identity.  A thousand faces, but they all look the same.  All smiling and looking at me, like what is he going to do next?  Its attention I don’t need or want.  It’s hard living with a brain injury; feeling angry, sad, embarrassed, and lonely.  What’s next for me?


Name: Ron

City: Mount Airy

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: My accident was in 2012.  I’ve been working hard in rehab ever since.  I would like to get back to fishing and catching big bass.  I like NASCAR.  My favorite driver used to be Dale Earnhardt, but now it is Austin Dillon.  I am a hard worker and will NEVER give up!!!!


Name: Willie S.

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident in 2013

Explanation of Mask: I’m glad to be a citizen of America and trusted the decisions that all my doctors made at the time of my injury.  I was happy to be able to walk again, so blessed by my creator to still be alive and loved by my family.  I am excited for the TBI program at CMC, and am grateful for the help I’ve received.  Thanks be to God!


Name: Lonnie

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Hit by a stray bullet in the head in 1969.  Then a head injury from a baseball bat in 1989.

Explanation of Mask: The iron part blocks me from thinking the right way and controlling my abilities.


Name: Jake

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Hemorrhagic stroke due to skiing accident

Explanation of Mask: The heart depicts my lost marriage due to my wife unwilling or unable to handle the changes in my life. The blue tears are for the sorrow that I felt for losing my job, income, way of life, and use of my left arm and leg. The brown represents the ongoing hard work that I put in during rehab-sometimes one has to get dirty. The mask over the eyes is for the blindness in my right eye and limited vision in my left. The words around the perimeter are topics that I struggle with on a daily basis including fear, doubt, career, money, rejection, anger, pain, loneliness and acceptance. The smile is for the fact that I am a survivor when no one thought I would survive, let alone recover. The cross is strength from the Lord to persevere in the face of adversity and overwhelming challenges.


Name: Joshua 

City: Mount Holly

Brain Injury: Anoxic brain injury at age 18 due to drug overdose

Explanation of Mask: Well, I wish I wouldn’t have done what I did. I wish I could go back and be normal and not have a brain injury. At least I have a second chance to start over. Drug use is very bad and does terrible things to people, like change their personality.


Name: Ann MG

City: Durham

Brain Injury: A fall off a scooter into the street in 2007

Explanation of Mask: On my mask are examples of my artwork, in the form of a collage. There are medical scans of my brain which I have colored with ink and blue watercolor. Collage is a media that I feel best expresses my experiences; like my thought patterns and my memory, the collage is composed of images, words, and objects that do not illustrate a linear narrative, but rather relate piece by piece, in a chain of associations.


Name: Andrew M

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Gunshot wound to the head while I was in the Air Force

Explanation of Mask: Militant group that Robinhood attacks groups to help less fortunate from movie. “V” for Vendetta. The militants called themselves “Anonymous”.


Name: Alex L

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Sustained in 2013 while working

Explanation of Mask: My mask represents my happiness. I am happy and thankful for being alive, for the ability to paint this mask and have a second opportunity for life. I am happy because people around me treat me with respect. The tears represent my fall.

Name: Andrew I

City: Durham

Brain Injury: Had electro convulsive therapy (ECT) in 2012

Explanation of Mask: Losing my memory of my own life keft me feeling like a “nowhere man”, without a narrative of who I was. I rebuilt my life and my understanding of it through the last three years.

Name: Sandy B

City: Stedman

Brain Injury: Slipped on ice and fell on cement at work


Name: Shelby T

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident while at college

Explanation of Mask: The Pittsburg Pirates are my favorite pastime. I go to spring training, watch on TV, and go to Pittsburg for live games sometimes. They are exciting and fun to watch, and I get to brag when they are winning, especially to the Yankee fans at my gym.


Name: Rachel

City: Jacksonville

Brain Injury: I was hit by a car at age 15 while crossing the street

Explanation of Mask: Split in half with two parts. Me….and brain injured me. Thoughts of who I could have been if brain injury hadn’t taken over.


Name: Kelley P

City: Jacksonville

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident in 1996

Explanation of Mask: My mask represents the loss of music and dreams. I had a full vocal scholarship to ECU. After the accident I was left with a speech impediment, making it difficult to fulfill my dreams.


Name: Danielle H

City: Camp Lejeune

Brain Injury: Pedestrian struck by a car at age 22

Explanation of Mask: The rays of sunshine show my optimistic mindset post TBI. The cross represents feeling uplifted and blessed when I was in the rehabilitation hospital. The cap and diploma demonstrate my determination to finish my Master’s degree once I recovered. The red around my eyes indicates the frustration I feel when people forget that I battle with a TBI, or when I’m struggling to get help. The unfinished white areas show my resilience, because I haven’t stopped fighting yet, and there is more to come in the years ahead


Name: Carolyn L

City: Jacksonville

Brain Injury: Moya Moya disease

Explanation of Mask: I learned how to speak, walk, balance, and think all over again. 


Name: Sharon

City: Apex

Brain Injury: Passenger in a Motor Vehicle Accident 

Explanation of Mask:My mask is titled “Bird Brain”.  I want to trade my brain in for a new one PLEASE! “Is there no way out of the mind?” “I know pretty much what I like and dislike; but please don’t ask me who I am.” These are quotes by Sylvia Plath that I identify with very much. My favorite book of Sylvia’s is “Bell Jar”.


Name: Dave B

City: Cary

Brain Injury: T-boned by a 60,000lb box truck

Explanation of Mask:I hope the mask speaks for itself.  Jesus Christ is my lord and savior.  I graduated from Penn State and I am a big fan of Joe Paterno! I have been weight lifting since 7th grade.  I had an awesome dog named “Boomer” who I lost after living 2 1/4 years longer than the vet said he should’ve. Blessed be the name of the Lord, “you give and take away, you give and take away.” Thank you, Lord Jesus, Amen!


Name: Melody M

City: Holly Springs

Brain Injury: Brain Surgery in 1998

Explanation of Mask: The color green represents healing.  The color blue is for hope. The question mark is for what meds to take???


Name: Amber 

City: Apex

Brain Injury: Car accident.  I was driving with two little girls in the backseat, but they sustained no injuries.

Explanation of Mask: How I feel on the inside is one side, and how I look on the outside is on the other side.  I look “normal” pre-accident on the outside.  On the inside, I’m living through a fog (grey color) with lots of questions about how I did things before my accident.  The wrinkles represent feeling very eager to be my pre-accident self.  I feel loved beyond belief!


Name: Deborah

City: Cary

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident  11 years ago

Explanation of Mask: I feel “forgetful”! I am thankful for family and friends.  I am frustrated with my memory, and challenged every day.  Blue is my favorite color.  Yellow eye represents my “third eye” helping me to get to places I often have trouble finding.  The 4-leaf clover represents that I am lucky to be alive.


Name: Sid

City: Fuquay Varina

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident at 18- coming home from a drinking party

Explanation of Mask: Mad because I’m alive and here on earth.  I wish I were back in heaven with God.  My story is on YouTube: Salvation is Dynamic.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus loves you.  I met him and came back to spread his word. 


Name: Alvin H

City: Garner

Brain Injury: Traumatic Brain Injury

Explanation of Mask: I am always spaced out, yet I still earned my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso.  Their mascot is a miner.  I included a picture on my mask to represent the miners search for gold, just like I am in search for my place in the world. 


Name: Tommy J

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Brain tumor found between my brain and skull. Intense radiation treatments from childhood cancer caused this tumor to develop. 

Explanation of Mask: I used the colors red and black because I attended NC State University and graduated with an agricultural degree.  I have a passion for volunteering for the NC Cooperative Extension. People describe me as outgoing, inspiring, hardworking, and kindhearted.  My hobbies are working on classic cars, jeeps, and sailboats, as well as collecting tractors. 


Name: Mark B

City: Clayton

Brain Injury: Undisclosed

Explanation of Mask: I have a hard time seeing out of my left eye, don’t walk like I used to, and have a hard time writing.  I like to hunt so I’m glad that my brain injury didn’t affect my “shooting eye”.


Name: Allyssa L

City: Clayton

Brain Injury: I had the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck when I was a baby

Explanation of Mask: I put a horse on my mask because I used to ride horses when I was a little girl.  I still like horses.  I chose the color yellow because I have blonde hair, and typed out words that describe my personality.


Name: Heather D

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Basilar Aneurysm

Explanation of Mask: I put tape over my moth to indicate my lack of voice.  The color blue and the tears represent my feelings. 


Name: Mark O

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Bicycle Accident 

Explanation of Mask: None Provided


Name: Diana R

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident in 2013

Explanation of Mask: At first, my brain was empty of any thoughts as I was in a coma.  Then I awakened and had partial thoughts.  I put the muddied grey spot in the middle as I still sometimes get muddled in my thoughts, but most the time I am okay.  Fatigue is an issue with me so I put the anti-fatigue sign. I used to do everything quickly, but now I cannot rush either physically or mentally, so I put the Red Hot Rush sign upside down.  Somehow my brain transposes my thoughts and the exact opposite comes out of my mouth.  Overall I am happy so I painted the face with happy colors (yellow and sky blue).  I used to just move from point A to point B and get things done, and not noticing anything in-between, but now I do. Life and nature are beautiful!


Name: Matt B

City: Wake Forest

Brain Injury: I was a passenger in a car wreck. 

Explanation of Mask: My mask includes hunting, because I never thought I’d be able to hunt again and its good therapy.  I want to get married.  Both my family and Dale Jr. have gotten me through a lot. I’m loyal to the Lord. 


Name: Sandy

City: Garner

Brain Injury: Two weeks after giving birth to my twins, I had a massive stroke related to my pregnancy. 

Explanation of Mask: I lay helpless on my bedroom floor, and I remember hearing my boys crying and my husband calling my name.  I tried to talk, but couldn’t get the words out.  I was told months after, that I had a stroke and two blood clots on the right side of my brain.  I couldn’t talk, walk, feed myself, or see out of my left eye.  My doctors called me a miracle.  The mask represents the pain I felt inside my head, and the tears I shed from the intense pain.  I am very lucky to be alive. 


Name: Stacy

City: Charlotte 

Brain Injury: Traumatic Brain Injury

Explanation of Mask: The bicycle represents my accident, and New Jersey is the state it happened in.  The phone was my lifeline! The shoe represents my struggle to get around.  The flower depicts how I’ve blossomed into a strong woman, living on my own and showing responsibility.  The lock represents how I had to open up to new things after my accident.  The unconditional love from my family helped me to grow up.


Name: Diandra J

City: Cary

Brain Injury: Traumatic Brain Injury

Explanation of Mask: My mask shows that yes I’ve had a brain injury, but it opened up a lot of doors for me to help others.  My future holds beauty, goals, gratitude, and independence.  By helping my dad, we strengthened our relationship.  We discovered that pine needle tea naturally rebuilds brain stems, and is a good replacement for coffee.  I’m like the wolf on my mask, because I won’t stop until I get what I want out of life. 


Name: JR Stanley

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask: My mask reflects the combination of past and present feelings, accomplishments, goals, engagements and beliefs. 


Name: Erkland G

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: TBI resulting from being shot during an armed robbery

Explanation of Mask: Black represents how I felt when this all happened: angry, crushed, powerless, bitter, and frustrated.  I was temporarily blinded from the gunshots.  The help wanted sign is for when I was calling out for help.  The coffin represents my father’s death. The Duke blue sky represents how my life is getting in order.  God blessed me! My eyesight was restored, and I’ve experienced a beautiful rainbow of change. I now enjoy working out, cooking, and eating healthy, and I am finally getting back to work. 


Name: Tony

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Traumatic Brain Injury

Explanation of Mask: The wreck I was in left me with a never-ending feeling of not being on the ground.  I am in a constant state of confusion.  I am very aware of my body, but I am not always confident.  What an experience…that will last a lifetime.  WHY must there be tragedies?


Name: Rachel C.

City: Clayton

Brain Injury: I had a car wreck

Explanation of Mask: The right eye has slanted lines and an open pupil because it doesn’t work that well. I drew in the right side of the mouth because my left arm doesn’t work.  I don’t talk well.  I painted with pink and purple because I think they are pretty colors.  I’m living my life without some things that meant a lot to me, but that’s the way it is now…and that’s me!


Name: Anthony G.

City: Raleigh

Brain Injury: Frontal, temporal, and occipital lobe damaged.  Major impact was on the left side of my skull. 

Explanation of Mask: How I felt and currently feel about what happened to me.  Qualities that are gone; vision in left eye, sense of smell, use of the left side of my face, and whole left side of my body.  My face feels deformed, like I don’t look “right”, from smiling, talking, eating, and facial expressions.  My mind is always racing; so busy thinking, but just as quick forgetting it all.  I can no longer fully protect my wife and children.  There is now a “new” relationship with them. 


Name: Rashad J. 

City: Not Disclosed

Brain Injury: I was hit in the head with a broken umbrella.

Explanation of Mask: If I didn’t have the accident, I would be in jail or dead.  My mother prayed for God to save my life.  Whitney Houston was a beautiful lady that could sing, until she messed up her life by smoking crack.  I love her and her daughter. 


Name: Martin D. 

City: Charlotte 

Brain Injury: A bicycle accident.  I tried to avoid a jogger and flew downhill, over the handlebars and onto a granite curb.

Explanation of Mask: I spent 5 1/2 weeks in a coma, and lost all memory of the previous 2 years.  Today my brother is my anchor!  This “unmasking” creating represents; lost relationships, past accomplishments and 18-year career as a teacher, the loss of my mom, dad, and childhood home.  I hole onto my parents love and early memories.  The glitter represents my new titanium skull parts. 


Name: John G. 

City: Fayetteville

Brain Injury: Hemi Craniotomy 

Explanation of Mask: The part in red is the head injury. The blue is the cool, calming part.  And it’s all a balancing act, coming from my mouth.  The expression on my forehead helps me to ensure that the blue/positive things outweigh the red/negative, injury related issues.  The red, white, and blue represent that I am a proud American!


Name: Mattie

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask: My stroke left me in a dark cloud, feeling as angry as red hot shooting flames, and as isolated as a deserted island surrounded by murky waters. The bridge represents support from the loving family and healthcare providers who helped me to spread my wings, and regain a beautiful life full of sunshine and hope.

Name: Jerry H

City: Aulander

Brain Injury: Car wreck 1978. Fell 25ft in 1985.

Explanation of Mask: My mask is blue because I love UNC basketball. I outlined my features so they stand out. Before my accident I enjoyed hunting, fishing, and walking. Now I enjoy good food, and computer games. I feel fantastic, and continue to try to be happy, and do my best.

Name: Joseph

City: Cherryville

Brain Injury: Car Accident in 2007

Explanation of Mask: I painted my mask black and white like a ying yang, because it represents good and evil, and that is something I struggle with.  The white side has a picture of a family- my daughter has my heart.  She makes me a good person and makes me very happy, especially when she says “I love you Daddy”.  The black side has the negative feelings that I struggle with every week.

Name: Troy G.

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: I was born with schizencephaly.  This means I was born with clefts on the right side of my brain.

Explanation of Mask: The sad boy represents my feelings of being afraid and hurt.  The helicopter represents being alive and grateful.  My brain injury has impacted my ability to do things, and the way I communicate with others.  The dog shows my feelings and emotions of being lovable, kind, and strong.

Name: Theresa S.

City: Silva

Brain Injury: Shaken Baby Syndrome at 3 years old. This affect my vision and left leg.

Explanation of Mask: I decided to put ballet shoes because for 9 years dance was a huge part of my life. As a result of my injury I had to have leg surgery, which impacted my ability to dance.  The car, and words “Disney World” represent my feelings of being and adult and having young interests.  The heart represents love, because God saved me and has continued to protect me.

Name: Wendy L

City: Carolina Beach

Brain Injury: Fall on Concrete

Explanation of Mask: My life before and after.  Before, I woke up every day knowing I was the eyes of the world.  My life was a sunshine dance, and I was a butterfly.  Then that Father’s Day I was suddenly in a bright light, and my life has never been the same. My lips are the same, but I have no voice.  Parts of who I was seem to continually fly away: my visibility, memories, dreams, and understanding; fly, fly away.  Daily I think, “In the darkness before the dawn, let your soul shine.” The blue coloring on my mask represents my mother ocean, which is my true love.  The feathers represent the following quote: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings songs without words and never stops at all.” I look at my mask and say, “Don’t let the shadows of yesterday spoil the sunshine of tomorrow.  Never stop looking at life through the eyes of wonder.”

Name: Wanda W

City: Sneads Ferry

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: The purpose and black zig zags on my mask represent what my journey looks like – back and forth, and then back again! I believe in never ever giving up; keep trying, keep working, and never stop.  I am thankful for life and for my husband’s support; we are survivors! I live simply and try to speak out and educate others.  I feel tired at the end of the day and week, and I experience memory issues dealing with constant strategies.  I am overcome with sadness and grief at times for what was lost in my accident.  “Broken brain syndrome” is what I say when things go wrong and those around me see.

Name: Paul K

City: Wilmington

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: On my mask, the lighthouse represents my new location in North Carolina.  The green and gold eyes signify that I am from Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Go Packers!) The sailboat and butterfly images are characteristics of freedom and transformation, just as a caterpillar forms into a butterfly.  Various adjectives on my mask have different meanings; for example, family means support, life is better than the alternative, to be ready is to be prepared for what is to come, recovery is a continuous process, use your head to think, keep in touch/communication with others, home is always a nice place to be, and love always.

Name: Nicholas S

City: Wilmington

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: I found out the hard way about why you shouldn’t drink and drive and not wear a seat belt.  The following sentences describe quotes and symbols I have featured on my mask.  The quote, “To live life in fear of losing it loses the point of life,” was from a fortune cookie.  The Nike sign is for my scar on the side of my head that was injured.  The picture of the car is what it looked like after my wreck.  I have also included a poem on my mask that I wrote after the accident. 

Name: Max P

City: Wilmington

Brain Injury: Assaulted after a party one night

Explanation of Mask: My brain injury has led to a loss of senses and an increased level of rage.  I am only a lost victim shoved aside to suffer through the brutality of this world with no smell and poor vision, unable to yell as needed.  The rest of my mask represents how such things as rocks, motorcycles, and family have helped me to stabilize my being and make it through all of these tough times of anger and disappointment. 

Name: Maggie S

City: Wilmington

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: I was in a coma for 28 days.  Physical therapy and MDs helped me to “re-learn” my physical body along with many mental challenges; this took months.  Now, I am a very happy soul that allows time to pass as I volunteer my free time at various charities- I meet so many people!

Name: Kristin W

City: Wilmington

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: I didn’t do any premeditating as I made my mask.  I just made it hoping it would turn out well and that it would come together to tell as story.  I cried quite a bit, and this is represented by the words “memory” and “the last reflection” on my mask.  I had a hard time talking for a while; maybe this helped me heal as my mind grew. 

Name: Karen S

City: Jacksonville

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: I was a volunteer EMT responding to a 911 call when I hit black ice, and the rest is history.  The new me: still getting to know her!  I am wild and crazy like my hair and continuously discovering my new path.  On my mask, the red blobs represent the brain bleeds I experienced.  I was thankful I did not need surgery because the bleeds reabsorbed. The black lips and nostrils signify my loss of smell and taste.  The bells and musical notes correlate with the ringing in my ears. I thank God this is not my home; home is yet to come a long time from now.

Name: Jason B

City: Wilmington

Brain Injury: Fall off a golf cart. Left parietal, occipital, right temporal extreme frontal lobe damade

Explanation of Mask: A veil of hidden identity cursed by hopeless frustration of who I was and who I am! As the night divides the night, and the day destroys the night. Embrace, indulge, love every moment in time! Faith is something we believe yet cannot see, when we truly believe then our eyes will open and see the fruits of our faith!  Blessed for a second chance.  Thank you my Father in Heaven and Son of man. Give Thanks! Amen.

Name: Cliff C

City: Southport

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask: I love Virginia Tech football, so I painted the mask in VT colors and added my jersey numbers as well. 

Name: Christian H

City: Carolina Beach

Brain Injury: Vascular Tumor Hemorrhage

Explanation of Mask: My mask tells what went through my brain and what still sometimes does.

Name: Augustus B

City: Wilmington

Brain Injury: Subdural Hematoma from Fall

Explanation of Mask: Two of my neighbor’s dogs tripped me up.  Half of my head was shaved.  On my mask, the red coloring shows where my scar is located.  I sometimes have problems walking and finding words.  I hope to continue to improve. 

Name: Todd M

City: Huntersville

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident 

Explanation of Mask: Even though I have a brain injury I’m still able to enjoy the things I was doing before my injury.  I love music, fishing, and going to Nascar races.  I also like dogs and cats because they help me calm down.

Name: Dave M

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask: I used the color orange because it is like oompa loompas in Willy Wonka.  Purple is for the reflection on my past life.  I chose red around my mouth to indicate “vibrancy”.  The screws in my forehead represent an image of my craniotomy.  Nothing is more important to me than music!  I feel stronger as a result of my injury.

Name: Andy W

City: Huntersville

Brain Injury: Car Accident in 2007

Explanation of Mask: Before my injury I enjoyed a lot of outdoor activities, which my family continued with me after my injury.

Name: Jennifer W

City: Charlotte 

Brain Injury: Brain tumor at age 13 around the stem of the brain

Explanation of Mask: I grew up in Phoenix, AZ.  After my surgeries, peopled started to not understand me.  I could not understand others either.  As time went by, I got more frustrated because I could not communicate well with others.  After coming to HFF, I am more relaxed because we all understand TBI and ABI.

The left side is flesh colored with happy words because I feel wanted at HFF, and I can smile and laugh.  The right side is blue for sadness.  The tears are because I am sad because I have trouble communicating with family.  The clenched teeth are because I get frustrated.

Name: Bill B

City: Cornelius 

Brain Injury: 1-10-13 from a stroke

Explanation of Mask: The colors represent my heritage and the place where my children were born. America is where I call home.  I put my son’s eyes in my mask because I try to see life through his eyes.  I feel grateful about life!  I am resilient and motivated in my recovery.  Resilient is the name of my book that inspires people to never give up! Neki is the title of my next book.

Name: William B

City: Winston-Salem 

Brain Injury: I hit my left frontal lobe when a truck mashed on the brakes when I was returning from my social work job.  I had 2 jobs at the time Walmart and Social Work.  Either way I am lucky to be in the condition I am in now. 

Explanation of Mask: My mask has the colors of the Carolina Panthers.  I have been on a roller coaster ride ever since I got out of the hospital “Wake Med”.  I was pretty depressed for a while, as well as isolated and lonely.  However, I began to cling to T.V. church as well as music by August Alsina, Kendrick Lamar, Hozier, and that about sums it up.  Now coming to therapy keeps me busy and also gives me hope because I have a lot more to do with my life here on Earth.  My fight is to get back to social work and changing the lives of children and families of all walks of life. 

Name: Juan C

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Victim of a gunshot wound inflicted during a robbery

Explanation of Mask: Before the accident I worked very hard, happy and free.  I painted the mask blue, sky blue, and green.  Green is for positivity, and for balance and trust in my mind.  At Hinds’ Feet Farm I feel good about the people there and the supervisors.  I’ve been there for 2 months and they’ve helped me a lot.  God Bless the whole farm.

Name: Bobby E 

City: Burlington

Brain Injury: Baseball bat incident and falling backwards into an electrical box

Explanation of Mask: I feel like I am broken inside.  I choose to keep things to myself.  I know that things will be hard, but I will not give up.  Sometimes I am tired of all I have to do to get better.  I know no one will do everything for me, so I do it.  Sometimes I feel helpless when I have to turn and ask others for help.  But I appreciate all the help I receive.  Sometimes I become angry when I try to do things and can’t because I know I can do it.  In the long run, I will beat this.

Name: Alyssa J

City: Reidsville

Brain Injury: Benign neuro-cytoma in the right ventricle of my brain

Explanation of Mask: For about 15 or 16 years, I was a pretty normal American girl.  The first white section of my mask represents that time of my life.  When I was in 11th grade, I started to have anxiety attacks and I was not as social as I used to be.  The white mixing into the black is representative of when things started to progressively get worse.  Eventually, as symbolized by the black section, things were just terrible.  I never went anywhere, I was too nervous too, even rarely saw some extended family.  The dark gray is when I was in the hospital after having emergency brain surgery, when more severe symptoms started to show.  Progressively things have gotten better.  I’m not entirely who I used to be, as shown by the lighted gray, but I’m getting there.

Name: Casey C

City: Lansing

Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injury, stroke, fractured skull, pelvic and right foot drop from motor vehicle accident on September 21, 2004

Explanation of Mask: The road on forehead going from side to side copies the inclusion on my head from removal of skull with my red blazer on top.  The tear on the left eye and question mark represent the emotions of upset, confused, and wondering what comes next.  The cross in the middle of the forehead represents the cross and how blessed I have been since injury.  The sunshine represents the common nickname I’ve gained since, “Casey and the Sunshine Band.”  The total injury was a life changing experience, difficult at times but glad it is a part of my history because I feel it has truly made me a better person.

Name: Bradford H

City: Summerfield 

Brain Injury: 3/21/2009 TBI

Explanation of Mask: Before my TBI/Rebirth spiritual awakening.  I was headed down the wrong path.  I was involved with the wrong crowd of party goers that would eventually lead to destruction.  After my TBI, God opened my eyes and the veil was torn.  I was reborn, I had to be taught everything over again.  How to walk, talk, eat, and dress myself.  It changed my perspective from the worldly temporary mindset to the Godly eternal mindset!!

Name: Robert 

City: Huntersville

Brain Injury: June 2014.  Fell 25 feet while at work.

Explanation of Mask: My family has meant a lot.  They’ve gone through a lot but have always been by my side.  My life is like a jig saw puzzle.  Some parts fit and some don’t.  My sight is like tunnel vision and I see double.  But thankful to be alive.  

Name: Paul H

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Near fatal stroke in 2008 resulting in severe aphasia (loss of language) 

Explanation of Mask: I am a United Methodist Minister, but because I have aphasia I can only speak a few words and short sentences.  My mask represents the way I feel… my mouth is both happy and sad, as are my feelings.  The eyes reflect the love and faith that get me thru each day- my faith in God and the love of my family and friends.  The cross on the forehead represents my love of Christ and his love for me.  I believe he is with me always.  I never give up hope as the saying says.  No matter our situation, we are all connected thru love, laughter, and hope. 

Name: Greg O

City: Huntersville

Brain Injury: From a fall

Explanation of Mask: Blue represents gratitude, being lucky, feeling unlimited in my recovery and always thinking about ways to stay strong.

Purple represents hurt and pain … but I will overcome and am powerful.

I am always looking at everything and trying to find the positive. 

Name: A. C.

Brain Injury: I was assaulted 

Explanation of Mask: :  Speaking up for people who lose their voice in the fight.  You have more strength than you think.

Name: Ashley F.

City: Rutherford  

Brain Injury: Car accident 

Explanation of Mask:  I feel sad about my brain injury.  The bicycle represents progress.  The words I identify with my brain injury are: afraid, awe, brave, challenged, annoyed, anger and confused.

Name: Frederick 

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Car wreck, Mild TBI

Explanation of Mask:  I’ve been in 2 car wrecks.  First I was driving alone and ran up on a curb.  This led to my car spinning out of control.  I ended up over correcting too much and my car flipped.  I was launched through the windshield.  Second car accident was scary.  I was t-boned and riding passenger with a friend.

Name: Jashon G 

City: Charlotte

Brain InjuryI had a brain aneurysm at East Carolina University during my senior year.

Explanation of Mask: My mask representation of my life.  1. The patch represents my college mascot and the visual impairment at the beginning of my injury.  2. “Often wrong” over my mouth because I sometimes or usually say the wrong information when relaying back the information.  3. Orange cross- my baptism at Elevation and orange is the church color 4. Jersey ECU for my college 5. Guy dancing because I was a great dancer before my injury 6. Monkey- Alpha Phi Alpha trademark 7. Woman in window- my isolation 8. Dog- my love for dogs

Name: Joan P  

City: Charlotte

Brain InjuryBrain leak in San Jose, CR, 2007

Explanation of Mask: I don’t remember what happened but I was told I was beaten and given surgery and was induced to coma during healing between 3 months.  I woke up in Charlotte and my family told me my husband was in jail.  8 years later I was declared “competent” again and I was able to bring my husband home.  No, he didn’t ever try to hurt me, and he died after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2014.

I know who the real criminals are: The Guardianship System!!

Name: Kristin W

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: I was hit in the head while driving.  Due to a recall on my vehicle, my airbags did not deploy and my seatbelt didn’t lock.  I suffered a severe concussion.

Explanation of Mask: I used words to express a few emotions that I experience and I am still experiencing everyday.  

Name: Rodney H 

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Fell off bleachers at age 6 and hit by a car at age 9

Explanation of Mask: The left side represents bad emotions of anger and confusion.  Why did it have to be me?  The right side represents good emotions of my faith and peace.  I feel like a new person now.

Name: W. K. M. 

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Removal of brain tumor from the 4th ventricle.  1 concussion from a mugging.  1 concussion from a car accident

Explanation of Mask: Having brain trauma/injury was the best thing that ever happened to me.  The black vines represent the “Great Void,” the Great Unknown, the creative force yet to reveal itself in manifest form.  I am a conduit free from blockages, ready willing and able to express creativity.

Name: Destiny N 

City: Stanley 

Brain Injury: Car wreck when I was 18

Explanation of Mask: The mask is in two parts to represent the before and after my brain injury. Before: The flower represents that I was a generally happy person; the music note is because I had a lot of musical talent; the pink lips because I found myself attractive.  After: the silver represents the titanium plate in my skull and my anxiety; the cat calms me down during anxiety attacks; the tears are because it hurt physically and mentally; the orange lips are for TRYING to be attractive but not knowing how.

Name: Zena J  

City: Reidsville 

Brain Injury: I was the caregiver for my daughter who had a brain tumor 

Explanation of Mask: Before the discovery of my daughter’s tumor I had noticed behavioral changes. Eventually during a trip to the ER at our local hospital, the tumor was discovered ad she was rushed to another hospital for surgery and spent the next 3 months in recovery.

The colors represent darkness to light, the words on my mask covers the range of emotions that I felt while watching my daughter go through this experience. The cross represents my faith in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I do not believe I could have made it through that time in my life without Jesus. No matter how difficult our journeys may be, we can rise above.


Name: Mary L 

City: Matthews 

Brain Injury: I was the caregiver for my daughter who had a brain tumor 

Explanation of Mask: Through the experience of surviving, I have come to cherish the state of being alive and to be given a new chance to experience more fully the grace and joy in my life. The injury is depicted as a red “star” shape on the top of the mask, in my case a subarachnoid hemorrhage. The words represent the positive aspects of healing from my injury. The base color is gold for I have come to know that I, like everyone else, am as valuable as gold!


Name: Gretchen S

City: Undisclosed 

Brain Injury: Undisclosed 

Explanation of Mask: Undisclosed


Name: Deanna

City: Dunn

Brain Injury: TBI following motor vehicle collision

Explanation of mask: I chose the color pink because it makes me happy. Hot pink is my favorite color. It makes me think of my son and how he likes “Paw Patrol.” I was so glad he wasn’t in the car with me, and so pink makes me happy. I wanted to write the word “awful” on my head because my head hurts and I don’t like how it makes me feel. I wanted to put “make-up” on my mask because I love make-up and wish I could cover my face up, I don’t like how I look. I put the words “bad” on my cheek because I do feel bad. I feel bad for what happened. My son is 2 years old and he has hearing loss. I taught myself sign language to learn with him by watching YouTube videos. You rub your hand on your cheek to let people know “you feel bad.”


Name: David S                           

City: Goldsboro

Brain Injury: I was 16, hit another car by drinking alcohol. Stole my cousin’s car and flipped the car over a couple of times.

Explanation of mask: Black clouds, sometimes I feel blue, but red in the face because I want to be able to walk, again, I feel sad, happy most of the time.


Name: Jeff S

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask: My brain injury was the result of a stroke. My mask reflects the combination of past and present feelings, accomplishments, goals, interests, engagements and best friends.


Name: Micheal G

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Fall and motor vehicle accident

Explanation of mask: Having had a TBI at a young age, I never knew that there was a reason for some of my challenges. Then getting another mild TBI-this time as an adult-I thought I had nothing to grieve. After all, I wasn’t dealing with severe effects that challenged others with TBI. Sometimes I sense I’m in a whirlwind spiral when I lose my balance or when I’m overloaded with too many thoughts. Many times I must take notes to get the info I hear to sink in so I can recall it later. I feel like I have to work two times harder than others. It takes conscious effort to peel away layers and open both eyes to the reality of my TBI and yet I’ve had a lifetime of spring time aliveness and growth-mindful engagements with all that is inside and around me. The supports of friends and others guides and sustains me on this life journey.


Name:  Mitchell

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: I didn’t have enough oxygen getting to my brain at birth.

Explanation of mask:  I’m a very quiet, calm person.  I am easy to get along with.  I’m curious about a lot of things.  It keeps me going throughout the day.  If I’m not curious I end up sitting in my recliner and feeling sorry for myself.  I live alone and it keeps me going, my curiosity.  I have pictures of computers on my mask because I have been working with computers since I was 16 years old and I want to continue it.  I have even built a computer.

Name:  Wade

City: Asheville, NC, formerly Madison, AL

Brain Injury: TBI from drunk driving when I was 22

Explanation of mask:  I am using red and a white heart because I am a nice guy.  I respect everyone.  The heart is for women.  I love women.  The brown mark on my forehead is for my brain injury.  That is where I have a scar on my forehead from my accident.  I am nothing like the person I once was.  Nothing at all.  I was a drunk and now I don’t drink anymore.  It’s been about 13 years since I got really drunk.

Name:  Jalen

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: Bleeding in my head when I was a baby.  I had a stroke.

Explanation of mask:  I like the color blue.  It is my favorite color.  It represents the sky—like outside!  I drew red cookies in the middle.  They are red to look like Christmas cookies that I lay out for Santa.  The orange is the color of the jack o lantern for Halloween.  I love going trick or treating, getting candy and dressing up.  My mask looks beautiful.  I love working at my job at Kmart and I love going bowling with Hinds’ Feet Farm to Sky Lanes.  I also love when we have open gym because I love to play basketball.  Basketball is my favorite sport.  Like Michael Jordan who is the best basketball player.  I am amazing!  I feel like my life is wonderful.  I like being Jalen!

Name:  Michael

City: Hendersonville

Brain Injury: Brain aneurysm

Explanation of mask:  My mask looks like me.  I am happy.  I smile a lot.  My face hurts from smiling all the time.  I love my son.  He’s handsome and he has awesome curly, dark brown hair.  I like to play brain games because they are fun and make me think hard.  I like to eat good food.

Name: Sarah

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: At 21 months old I was in a near drowning and deprived of oxygen for an unknown length of time.

Explanation of mask:  I adore symbolism and used colors to symbolize my feelings and experiences.  I put yellow to represent that I’m dependent and I am not sure I will ever not be dependent.  The yellow is over my eyes because my dependency is staring me in the face.  I’m trying to be positive but also realistic.  I put red because I do have excessive emotions.  My emotions go everywhere.  They are very dramatic and there are lots of them.  They feel extremely strong.  Orange because I do have lots of good relationships and lots of confidence but I also lack self-discipline and motivation.  I’m unable to do anything without another person there encouraging me.  I am not able to think good thoughts on my own.  I need other people to be positive for me and push good thoughts into my head.  My emotions are very difficult to control which has the biggest impact on me.  My family and animals are important to me because they love me and are willing to help me out in any way necessary.  Some things I like about myself are that I am good with words—they are a major, major strength of mine.  I am able to express myself well verbally.  Many people might think I am selfish because I ask for so much but I am really very generous.  I only ask for so much because I am not able to go out and get it for myself.


Name: Darren H

City: Mt. Pleasant

Brain Injury: April 1, 2006- Attached after playing basketball

Explanation of mask:  I love basketball, I played forward on my high school team. A scout from Florida State watched me play and got my name and said he wanted to draft me.

Jesus is Lord and without him I would not be here.

Jennifer Lopez is muy bonita!

Name: Donald C. 

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: Diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multi-form Cancer Stage 5

Explanation of mask:  I am a brain cancer survivor, which is represented by the gray ribbon.  Red represents the color of injury and what I remember when waking up from surgeries.  Blue is my favorite color and makes me think of peace.  I wasn’t supposed to survive, this is almost always fatal.  God blessed our family when I lived longer than expected.

Name: Caitlyn L. 

City: Rougemont

Brain Injury: Multiple Concussions

Explanation of mask:  My mask represents how everyone else sees me versus how I see myself and what I am going through. The outside looks “normal” to most people I come in contact with. They can’t see the struggle that lies beneath the surface. This is represented by the glitter side of the mask. It is so easy to fake being okay with a simple smile. Most of the time, however, I deal with a lot of depression and anxiety due to my multiple concussions. On the inside it feels dark and lonely at times. I spend some days fighting off my dizziness and migraines while trying to keep a brave face. My mask represents the literal “mask” that I wear everyday. Traumatic brain injuries are the hidden injury because it is hard to see from the outside. The darkness that I feel inside is represented by the dark side of the mask. Sometimes I feel empty inside due to losing favorite sport of cheerleading. I look perfectly normal but on the inside I am constantly struggling. 

Name: Adam R. 

City: Fuquay Varina

Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injury from a motocross accident in May 2010

Explanation of mask:  I want to drive and go back to work. I loved my job as a computer programmer. I’m working everyday to exercise my brain and make it stronger so that one day I will return to the career I love and miss. 

Name: Hope Y. 

City: Apex

Brain Injury: Left frontal lobe and temporal lobe. I was in a car accident.

Explanation of mask:  My mask is revealing my optimistic attitude and my hopefulness of life in general. My husband and I have two daughters and we are trying to raise them to be honest workers. I love cooking just about anything, butterflies, cats, the color purple, soccer, shrimp, being at the beach, listening to the ocean, flowers, and volunteering when I can. I feel like I can never use enough love! 

Name: Karen B. 

City: Cary

Brain Injury: Stroke in May 2015

Explanation of mask:  Before and after. Sadness followed by positive recovery. 

Name: John F. 

City: Cary

Brain Injury: Stroke in November 2008

Explanation of mask:  Green light bulb: I was on. Always Working. Red light bulb: Had a stroke, brain was shut down and was broken. Yellow light bulb: Re-learning everything = walk, talk, everything, one step at a time with the love of my caregiver and God who will never abandon me. 

Name: Jeffrey L. 

City: Cary

Brain Injury: Brain injury in result of an automobile accident

Explanation of mask:  My life was very colorful prior to my TBI (left side). The blank part of the mask represents the void in my life when in the hospital and during rehabilitation. The right side of the mask indicates I’m still not fully living my life. I’m still improving after 30 years and am slowly living more and adding color to my life. 

Name: Chris C. 

City: Apex

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask:  I feel as if from the turmoil of this stroke, my hands reach up with my heart towards the mountains and the light of God. 

Name: Tina M. 

City: Onslow

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of mask:  Look what God has done! It is all about God!

Name: Tim K. 

City: Apex

Brain Injury: A DEM Virus

Explanation of mask:  Red Mask. Hunting and fishing. 

Name: Laura H. 

City: Hubert

Brain Injury: AVM Surgery

Explanation of mask:  This represents the crisscross of the left and right half of the brain. What is missing is on the left, what doesn’t work is on the right. 

Name: Phoenix N.

City: Charlotte

Brain Injury: I had a massive stroke at 14.  I have no right brain.  I’ve had countless surgeries and I rely on my left brain only.

Explanation of mask:  Starting back to age 1 after my incident, the definition of a Phoenix is to rise from the ashes in the freshness of youth to live through another cycle of years.  Which all I did was rise from the ashes. =) 

Name: Aaron S.

City: Accident was in Kissimee, FL

Brain Injury: Feb 4, 2011 I was involved in a motorcycle accident on the way to class

Explanation of mask:  YOLO stands for “you only live once.”  I included this on my mask because that’s my life motto, so that I can remember to make the best of everyday.  Everyday is not promised and yesterday has already passed.  TCOB: “Take care of business” reminds me that “business is business” and “friendship is friendship” and you don’t combine the two.

Name: Jalen E.

City: Chandler

Brain Injury: I had a stroke at the age of 2

Explanation of mask:  My mask is blue because I love the color blue.  I put the taco by my mouth because I love eating tacos, but I wish I could learn how to make them.  My favorite drink is Mountain Dew.  I put the shoes on my mask because I don’t know how to tie my shoes yet, but I am proud that I am able to work stocking shoes for Kmart.  The guitar is there because I enjoy country music and the music of Bruno Mars and Drake.  I am a good musician too.  The basketball player is there because I love playing basketball.  I also love bowling and jumping on my trampoline.

Name: Lisa R.

City: Spruce Pine

Brain Injury: I was hit by my husband when I was 23 years old

Explanation of mask:  I feel really sad about my brain injury.  I like to work and I am not able to work as much as I would like to.  I have two children and grandchildren, but I don’t get to see them as often as I want to.  I have seizures now and I am no longer able to live in my own home.  I am sad, I want to think good.

Name: Sheila B.

City: Asheville

Brain Injury: I received a TBI from a motor vehicle accident in 2013

Explanation of mask:  I divided my mask in three parts: Hope, Faith, and Love.  The top left corner has a cross which represents faith.  The top right corner has an anchor that represents hope.  The bottom section has a heart with the state of Louisiana that represents love.  The brown pelican is the state bird.  The magnolia is the state flower.  The crawfish is my favorite food to eat, especially boiled.  Louisiana represents my Cajun culture and heritage and “Laissez le bon temps rouler,” means “Let the good times roll.”

Name: Mark

City: Garner

Brain Injury: I came home from work, and I fell. I can’t remember what happened after that. I possibly had a stroke.

Explanation of mask: One side represents where I was, and the other side represents where I am at now. I am peaceful, relaxed, grateful, and hopeful. I am partially blind since the accident. The left side represents how I used to be before I came to this program. I was mad, agitated, frustrated, fearful, and lonely. I have a good time at the clubhouse. I’ve came every day, four days a week, for the past five years. 

Name: Robert 

City: Garner

Brain Injury: Suffered in an automobile accident in Baltimore. The car went down an icy road in Baltimore where I was working. I suffered physical disabilities and short memory problems.

Explanation of mask: The mask depicts the physical and mental frustration I have.  I suffer from memory problems, altered mental capabilities, anger, frustration, inability to perform tasks as quickly and efficiently as I once could, loss of patience and unable to properly handle frustrations, despite my efforts. I still, sometimes, find a way to explode. I’m trying to foresee the problems before they explode. I’m basically keeping my fingers crossed, hoping I can handle my problems before frustration causes them to explode! Gateway has helped me, thankfully!

Name: Sandy O. 

City: Rocky Mount

Brain Injury: I experienced a brainstem stroke at the age of 36. 

Explanation of mask: My mask is gray and yellow. They gray side depicts my feelings when I experienced my stroke. The red words with Xs through them show the things I lost. The yellow side depicts my positive outlook that I have 18 years after the stroke. The purple words are things I have retained or gained since my experience.

Name: Teddy S. 

City: Enfield

Brain Injury: Stroke at the age of 46 that left my right side of my body paralyzed.

Explanation of mask: I see things in black and white. My mask is symbolic of how I’ve approached my stroke. The black side represents all the bad things associated with my stroke. The white represents where I was before and will be again.

Name: Mike G. 

City: Shirley 

Brain Injury: I was hit by a truck. 

Explanation of mask: I was intoxicated and staggering home when I was ran over by a truck. I love rock and roll, and I lived a hippy life. I get through life by smiling regardless of my disability and still try to joke to keep humor going. Life goes on! We have to adapt and overcome! 

Name: Gerry P. 

City: Rocky Mount

Brain Injury: I had a stroke when I was 53. 

Explanation of mask: My Siberian husky dog woke me up and saved my life. I loved my dog. Her name was Cleopatra, and she was very loyal. She had ice blue eyes and a liver colored nose. After my stroke, the took my dog away. I like 4-legged dogs. Dogs can be lifesavers. 

Name: Eddie B. 

City: Rocky Mount

Brain injury: I hit a tree with a car. 

Explanation of mask: A tree on the right side of my mask shows that I hit a tree, and this side of my body has been affected by it. 

Name: Sheila K. 

City: Mebane

Brain injury: I was hit from behind by a truck while I was stopped on highway 70. On October 13,  2015, I was diagnosed with a concussion, as my head was severely shaken by the impact. Now I have to get shots in the back of my head for headaches. Also, my left arm has permanent nerve damage. I also have memory issues. I am thankful to be alive.

Explanation of mask: I want to be able to share my experience. This has been really hard emotionally, as my only child was killed on May 2, 2011. He died from a broken neck, so this all comes back to the forefront and that itself is enough to deal with. He was only 27. On the day of my wreck, I thought I was going to hit a car head on. I went to the hospital via ambulance and then on October 15 and 17th. I had to go UNC-ER due to extreme pain in my head. This all put a strain on my marriage. It was not my fault, and I just go to my happy place at the beach. Being there, I am not judged. I am also the caregiver to my mom and she resides in assisted living, so I have to continue to do that as well. I am her power of attorney, and I have to stay on top of her situation. This makes me have lots of extra stress, but I do the best I can.

Name: Johnathon W. 

City: Asheville 

Brain injury: I have a head and neck injury. I was blown off a vehicle. 

Explanation of mask: The forehead is yellow because I’m happy to be alive. The red line represents that I am half-bred. Black means I faced the jaws of death and came out victorious. I am on the winning side all through the blood of Jesus. 

Name: Robert B. 

City: Rocky Mount 

Brain injury: Stroke 

Explanation of mask: The red represents loss of speech. The blue represents regaining independence. 

Name: Kathleen S. 

City: High Point

Brain injury: I was hit by a drunk driver. 

Explanation of mask: When I was 19 years old, I was hit by a drunk driver. I was attending Guilford Tech in hopes of being a counselor or massage therapist. I live in a group home and we need more support. I will never give up hope. I would like for others who have a brain injury to get the services they need. The tears represent the struggles after my accident, but I am a fighter and a volunteer, so I’m always looking for that hope. 

Name: Darlene S. 

City: Battleboro 

Brain injury: I had a stroke on my right side of my brain, affecting the left side of my body. 

Explanation of mask: I woke up on a Sunday morning. It was snowing outside. I couldn’t sit up in bed, and I kept falling over on my left side. I have slurred speech. I was rushed to the ER too late to get medicine to stop the stroke. I was told that it was a miracle that I survived. I have a blood clot in the brain, and there is nothing that can be done except to keep taking my meds. I keep having transient ischemic attacks, and it makes me angry. The blue side with the pom-poms represent the snowy morning. The purple side represents my feelings and my favorite color. The yellow feathers represent my hair. 

Name: Henry F. 

City: Winston Salem 

Brain injury: I was in an automobile, and I ran through a fence. I was intoxicated, and as a result, I have a brain injury. I am blind in one eye. 

Explanation of mask: I love music and am active in First Baptist church. I sing in the choir. My masks symbolizes the song “red, yellow, black and white. They are precious in his sight. Jesus loves everyone.” After my accident, I’ve never drank alcohol again. 

Name: Sid C. 

City: Cary 

Brain injury: Automobile Accident 

Explanation of mask: Believe in God because He is real. I died and met him. For more of the story, go to YouTube, and put “Salvation is Dynamic” in the search bar. 

Name: Parrish H. 

City: Wingate

Brain injury: Car Accident 

Explanation of mask: I am like Jacob in the Bible. I was struggling with the Lord, and I was struggling with bad decisions that I made. Due to my accident, I lost all of my blood, and I ended up in a coma, paralyzed from the waist down. My long-term memory is good, and my short-term memory is not bad. I have repented my sins, and I am a much better man. God still blesses me today. Like Jacob, I struggled with the Lord, and now I live with the consequences due to my actions. I believe God will give me the strength to do what I want to do and be the person I want to me. 

Name: Jeff M. 

City: Siler City 

Brain injury: Tractor Accident 

Explanation of mask: I was four years old when I jumped off my grandpa’s tractor. I got ran over. I live in a group home, and every day I am challenged with doing things. I have a girlfriend who I have been with for 8 years.  She lives two hours away, so the staff takes me once a month to see her. I met her at White Lake when I was on vacation. This life is not easy, but I make the best of it. 

Name: Jessie B

City: Cherryville 

Brain injury: Traumatic Brain Injury

Explanation of mask: Cross- Only way to heal physically and mentally.  Lightening- physical injury inside & out.  Glasses- vision issues & now have to have glasses.  Green ribbon- TBI.  Purple ribbon- Existing R.A.  Kayden- Only son.  Nick- husband; when finally awake after injury I immediately wanted him by my side.

Name: Lily

City: Charlotte

Brain injury: Choked on food and was in a coma twice. I nearly died.

Explanation of mask: I put purple on half my mask to show that I’m sometimes sad or angry. I chose purple because it is a darker color and represents sadness for me. I put blue on the other half of my mask because it is a bright and pretty color to represent that sometimes I am happy. I put hearts on my mask because I am a very lovable and caring person. I put tears on my mask to show that sometimes I am sad and cry because of my brain injury. There are shining stars on my mask because I am a star for still pushing through my challenges every day. There is also a horse shoe on my cheek to represent how lucky I am to be alive and to show my love of horses and animals.

Name: Unknown

City: Unknown

Brain injury: Unknown

Explanation of mask: Unknown