Crash survivor starting nonprofit to help traumatic brain injury patients

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A motorcycle racer is giving back after recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

Morgan Monroe is starting a nonprofit in the Grand Rapids area to help fill gaps in care that she discovered during her treatment.

A rising star in professional flat track racing, Monroe’s life changed forever on Nov. 12, 2016.

“I was racing my motorcycle in a flat track race in Savannah, Georgia and I got into a super innocent collision with another rider and I high sided over his bike and I landed right on my shoulder and the right side of my head,” Monroe said.

Monroe suffered a traumatic brain injury and was rushed to a hospital for treatment.

“I broke my right scapula, I broke four ribs, I broke my L1 vertebrae, I broke my left hand and then I had a traumatic brain injury that caused me to have a hemorrhagic stroke,” Monroe said.

She would eventually race again but the collision sidelined her career. Morgan, who is from the Flint area, came to Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids to continue her treatment.

“They taught me how to still get around and take care of myself if I would have ended up not being able to use my right arm,” Monroe said.

While she resisted the difficult sessions of occupational therapy at first, the team soon won her over.  

“The relationship that I formed with those women was unbelievable, the reason that I want to be an occupational therapist to this day,” Monroe said.

Morgan has since graduated with a degree in occupational therapy and is starting a nonprofit called Morgan’s Place with the help of her mother, Dr. Carey Monroe.

“When it was time for her to be released though from Mary Free Bed and go home, I knew that she was going to need more. She’s an athlete,” Carey Monroe said. “That’s why we decided to take time off, for me to take more time off for work and take her to Florida to do intensive training at a friend’s campground.”

Morgan’s Place will be a similar campground that will help traumatic brain injury patients learn outdoor activities.

“They don’t really realize that they’re participating in therapy activities. They’re just having a good time but they’re creating those new neuropathways that are helping their body to repair itself,” Carey Monroe said.     

Morgan Monroe was reunited with her recently retired occupational therapist, Jennifer Ancans, seeing her for the first time since she was discharged.  

“Really proud of how far she has come,” Ancans said. “Working at Mary Free Bed as long as I have and seeing the patients and the kids that I’ve seen and their families, to see the progress and what they’re doing down the road … it’s just amazing.”

Morgan Monroe hopes to help more people achieve progress through her non-profit.

“I just want Morgan’s Place to be a comfortable and safe place for people to go and just recover and find themselves again,” Morgan Monroe said.

Morgan’s Place is hoping to open in the spring or summer of next year and is raising money to purchase a campground. 

If you would like to donate, visit the Morgan’s Place website.

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