b'THE ROAD TO MISS GILBERT: with other brain injury survivors, and hear their stories, In late 2018, I was interviewing candidates for a new positionwhich Id never been able to do before. It was a great weight at my law firm, and none other than Jacqueline Thomasoff my shoulders to hear that others had gone through things walked into our office. I recognized her as Miss ParadiseId gone through and to realize I wasnt alone.Valley and we talked about how she achieved that role, andI also met Brittany (BIAAZ Resource Facilitation Manager) her plans for entering the Miss Arizona pageant. She didntat the Power of the Purse Party as well. She told me about end up working for our firm, but did later go on to winthe ASU Disability Resource Center after hearing about my Miss Arizona 2019, so I took this a sign to compete forstruggles in school. I was eligible and accepted to receive the next Miss Arizona local competition, which was beingservices from the Center. They have been helpful because held in none other than my hometown, Gilbert. Spoilerthey email and check in for troubleshooting issues that arise I won, and Jacqueline was the one who crowned me Missin class and can provide tutoring and assistive technology if Gilbert 2020. Since then, she has been the best mentor andneeded. I look forward to utilizing these services even more friend, and Im extremely grateful to have the opportunityduring graduate school.to compete for her job. After the Purse event, I later received a message from BIAAZ THE COURAGE TO BE COMPASSIONATEExecutive Director Carrie, who invited me to participate in AND UNDERSTANDING: the Virtual Run, Walk, and Roll this past March, and sent Brain Injuries are different for everyone; theres no cookiea media crew to my house to capture my story. I did the cutter signs and symptoms. What I go through is going to beOne Mile Fun Run in my neighborhood with Miss City of different from what Jane is going through, which is totallyMaricopa. I wish I could go back to running a 5K, but I have different from what John is going through. Were strugglingto be careful, because if I exert myself too much physically, to get through the experience ourselves, so when peopleI have syncope spell, and pass out. are dismissive of the injury or arent nice, it makes me feelThe BIAAZ mission is important because we need to talk worse, and deters me from asking for help. about brain injury more. Weve had more discussions about If we could be an accepting, inclusive community, and ifmental health, but we need to look at putting less of a stig-people were kind to everyone, that would be ideal. Somema on brain injury and learn more about what it is. BIAAZ days are great for me, and some days are really bad, but itbrings people together to talk about what these needs are doesnt take away from the fact that I have a TBI. It bothersand how to cope with living with the injury. It took a year me when people say, you look fine today. The injury isfor me to have my concussion diagnosed by a neurologist invisible, so what I look like on the outside doesnt equateand I didnt handle it well, so its important to have things to how Im feeling internally. like support groups and people to help you, which is what BIAAZ provides. It would be great for more veterans to learn CONNECTION TO THE BRAIN INJURYabout BIAAZ, as there are so many great free classes and ALLIANCE OF ARIZONA (BIAAZ): programs available to them.I originally got connected through the Miss Arizona Organi- HOBBIES AND ACTIVITIES:zation. Earlier this year, I volunteered to help with a BIAAZI love hiking when I can and exploring our beautiful state event, the Power of the Purse Party, and saw that none otherof Arizona. I also love spending time with my two than Miss America 2020, Camille Schrier would be there. Irescue catsSpot, and Luna.came and helped set up and was able to meet Camille, along (LEFT) Danielle during her time as an Army Correctional Specialist and (RIGHT) Danielle listening to veterans share their stories while serving as Miss Gilbert.16The Noggin | 2020vol 5issue 2'