History of CTE Awareness Day

CTE Awareness Day January 30, 2018 is right around the corner, and will be here before we know it! CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma (often athletes), including symptomatic brain injuries as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms. In other words, every hit counts.

CTE Awareness Day was started by the families of “Faces of CTE” in 2016 at Super Bowl week in Houston, in the NFL’s back yard so to speak. 

The day was founded to shine a light on the devastating disease, but especially to increase awareness at the youth level where millions of kids are exposed each year playing football and other sports with repetitive brain trauma as an inherent risk.

While the media, and other organizations you would expect to pay much more attention to such a significant launch regarding a topic that has garnered major attention and thousands of stories from The NY Times to People magazine, they didn’t. They looked the other way. The bold and the brave among us, took a stand for athletes, especially the children who played for fun and were not paid to play. It hasn’t been a popular stance.

In spite of the lack of some CTE leaders in research and advocacy’s support, CTE Awareness Day was a huge success. More than a dozen major new sources from NPR to the Houston Chronicle ended up covering the inaugural day. Families from across the country gathered representing athletes lost too soon from the NFL, college and Pop Warner. We shared our pain as well as joining together to make a difference.

Since that day last January, our group has written a book, “Faces of CTE” that will be available for purchase in March 2018 that chronicles the 14 lives of athletes who succumbed to the mind robbing disease known as CTE. We also gathered in DC in March on Capitol Hill for Brain Injury Day to let our collective voices be heard by law makers. And monthly we provided free “Tackling Grief” workshops with Grief Expert & CTE Mom, Marcia Jenkins.

Throughout the year we did the unthinkable, led by CTE mom, Debbie Pyka, we asked families of youth football players who died suddenly to donate their loved ones brains through our collaboration with Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

All in all, we moved mountains to create a lasting legacy for all levels of athletes impacted by CTE and brain damage.

As the year comes to a closing we are busy putting together the next CTE Awareness Day, so stay tuned for more information on participating in next year’s social media and national advertising campaign to raise awareness. If you want to get involved to donate or help, call 800-596-7860 or email kimberly@nationalcheersafety.com.

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