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San Diego College of Continuing Education Aims to Raise Thousands for Brain Injury Survivors and Classes

March 12, 2021

Team ABI (SDCCE students, teachers, and community) participate in surviveHEADSTRONG Walk for Recovery in 2019 at De Anza CoveThis March for National Brain Injury Month, students and teachers from San Diego College of Continuing Education (SDCCE) are rallying together once again to raise funds and awareness for San Diego Brain Injury Foundation’s (SDBIF’s) annual surviveHEADSTRONG Walk for Recovery. SDCCE is on track to raise $20,000 by March 20.

SDCCE’s Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) programs have been a top fundraiser for the foundation’s charity walkathon for the past thirteen years, raising more than $230,000 since 2008. Proceeds go to the SDBIF and to SDCCE’s ABI Trust Fund which supports students enrolled in ABI classes with scholarships, online learning support, field trips, one-to-one assistance, and roller backpacks for students with mobility and balance issues.

“Struggling through a brain injury after an accident, stroke, or tumor, often times losing your livelihood and relationships, not to mention your entire sense of self, is hard enough under any circumstances, but more so with the isolation and additional anxiety that Covid-19 has imposed upon us all,” said Heike Kessler-Heiberg, SDCCE’s ABI instructor and SDBIF Board Member. “Although this year’s walk will be held virtually, it will still bring us together and most importantly support two worthy causes, the San Diego Brain Injury Foundation and the Acquired Brain Injury classes.”

To keep everyone safe from the Covid-19 Pandemic, SDBIF is encouraging participants to walk individually or with small teams and to document their experience through photos and videos for a virtual celebration being held on Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 9:00 am.

Free classes at SDCCE support people recovering from ABI’s such as brain trauma, stroke/aneurysm, brain tumor, brain infection and anoxia. Classes are open-entry/open-exit, students can enroll at any time.

Marine Veteran Mario Sanders enrolled in SDCCE’s ABI program after suffering a severe motor vehicle collision in 2016. Following the accident Sanders was transferred from serving as active duty to the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendleton, where he learned about SDCE’s ABI classes during therapy.

 “If I hadn't discovered this program, I don’t think I would be as accepting with my brain injury as I am now,” said Sanders. “When I was discharged from the hospital, I believed school was definitely not for me anymore. I’m now attending San Diego Miramar College, something I never would have done.”

With dreams of becoming a physical therapist or an occupational therapist, Sanders is dually enrolled at San Diego Miramar College and plans to transfer to SDSU or UCSD.



Allura Olympia Garis