First Annual California TBI Advisory Board Conference

TBI Advisory Board Conference

A friend of mine with the California Department of Aging sent me some information on First annual Statewide TBI Advisory Board Conference which is being held in Sacramento on February 9-10, 2009 at the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza at 300 J Street.  Hopefully myself and Erin will be able to attend this conference.

The target audience for this conference is anyone interested in traumatic brain injury including family members, caretakers, case managers/service coordinators, rehabilitation specialist, neuro/psychologist, counselors, physicians, and others who service individuals with traumatic brain injuries.

One of the workshops at the conference that really caught my eye is called “Serving Returning Service members with TBI which is being moderated by Ted Puntillo, Deputy Secretary California Department of Veteran Affairs.

The purpose of the conference is four fold:

  1. Raise the visibility of traumatic brain injury among policy makers and program administrators
  2. Promote innovative and successful services and systems to meet the diverse needs of persons with traumatic brain injury
  3. Promote collaboration among stakeholders to address challenges faced by individuals with traumatic brain injury and their families
  4. Promote opportunities for coordination of resources and services, and provide information to individuals with traumatic brain injury and their families

A conference brochure is available at California Department of Mental Health Website at:

Registration information can be found by going to the website:

Sam’s medical status:

Happy New Year to All,

My Dad was the product of the dust bowl era when many of the people that lived in Oklahoma and surrounding states migrated to California for a better way of life. At 16, my Dad was thrust into the working role in order to help support his family which included 3 younger brothers. His formal education came to screeching halt and Dad never lost that "Okie" vocabulary that was his by environment. An immature teenager viewed this "ignorance" as a flaw and my relations with my Dad were strained. It wasn’t until God got a firm grip on me that I realized that my Okie Dad was brilliant. He was a self taught, Journeyman Industrial Electrician. This was a feat I could never even dream of accomplishing. When I saw this quote from Mark Twain a few years before my Dad passed away; I finally got it. "When I was 18, I found my Dad ignorant; by the time I was 21, I was surprised by how much my Dad had learned in 3 short years." My sister has explained in her writings that we sometimes view God as we view our natural fathers. That is, if our father abandons us, we see God as distant; or if our father is harsh, we see God as stern and lacking love….One unique thing about my Dad was his predictable generous nature. Dad would follow us out to our cars after a visit home, and literally empty his wallet (he called it a billfold) into our hands. He would give us all he had to give, even if it were only a few dollars or his entire cash allotment for the week; and he did it for all of his kids…(6 of us) It was so regular, we expected it…Well, to the point of my story about my Dad…last week I stated that I was expecting God to move in Sam and Erin’s lives because the medical community had kind of come to a stalemate over some of Sam’s treatment…I prayed about it with some very strong prayer support from some amazing Christians, and God just doesn’t say No…These are reports from Erin that I received by text, phone calls, and actually being able to spend time with Sam on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day….

First Erin reported that Sam became unhappy with his catheter and wanted to use the restroom. He fought his way through the door of the restroom himself using his strong right arm to maneuver his wheelchair into position. He couldn’t go but the doctors were very encouraged that he had not only the sensation to go, but the presence of mind to initiate the move to the restroom. Next as Erin gave Sam a haircut, she presented him with a mirror and asked how he thought he looked? He replied, "sexy as hell". Ha! That’s my boy….One evening Sam informed Erin that "she was in his way"; even brushing her foot off of his wheelchair. She asked where he was going, and he replied, "I’m going to bed" and then SamWrites attempted to get out of his chair and into bed. One afternoon Erin was doing a Mad-lib with Sam and asked for an adjective. He had trouble getting it out so he took the pen from her hand a wrote the word on a poster board. The word is GREAT and is shown by the first picture. It is hard to see at first, but when I blew it up on my computer screen, it was easily read…And finally, one afternoon, Sam said to Erin that "they should go home now." Erin didn’t think too much about it as she in the past has had to remind him of his injuries and explain the need to stay in the hospital for now. She did that again and she thought he was pacified. Approximately 10 minutes passed, and he thoughtfully declared "he didn’t need to be there" and again tried to get out of bed…Well, I was so happy to hear that out of his own mouth…I truly see it as a faith statement, and some more of that is just what Dr Jesus has ordered. As he progresses in his mind to see what he already holds to be true in his spirit, He will progress exponentially. The fact that he doesn’t see himself as injured, and in need of round the clock care speaks volumes to me…This week is a movement by God on Sam and Erin’s behalf and nothing under the sun will convince me otherwise…

SamnFootball_Dec_08 The picture of Sam preparing to throw a football was taken on Christmas Day. Julie, (Erin’s Mom) had wrapped about a dozen gifts for Sam and had brought them down for him to unwrap. He did a masterful job at opening the packages, using the seams of the paper, and tearing when appropriate…The tone from his injuries locks his jaw something fierce, but he was able to gargle out a Merry Christmas to Donny, Brandi, and I on Christmas Day…He was happy to have us around and had me tell him the nativity story; not once, but twice on Christmas Day….

Much love,


13 Responses to First Annual California TBI Advisory Board Conference

  1. Carol says:

    Praise the Lord for the great report!
    God’s timing is perfect, and I believe that Sam’s restoration
    will continue. Know we hold all of you up in pray daily.
    Keep looking up. May HE give all of you much strength & wisdom daily.

  2. Bena Fabian says:

    Happy New Year and may 2009 see continued improvement for Sam. Your prayers and those of so many people who love Sam and Erin are definitely working. Sam’s recovery is truly amazing and inspirational. Thank you for this blog that keeps us informed and never ceases to demonstrate God’s love.

    Bena Fabian
    Soldiers Angels

  3. Stephanie Kerr-Chase says:

    Hugs to all of you and prayers continuing. The happiest of years to all. Love, Stephanie Kerr-Chase

  4. I have been hearing a phrase this week in my spirit, and you fine people are the first that I am sharing it with. I listened to the song “I Can Only Imagine” today, and I thought , “That’s it!! I am Dancing with Jesus!” Now I am going to be writing a series of journals on Wiseman’s Wisdoms called Dancing with Jesus. Life with Jesus is a dance, not in the realm of our human understanding, but in His realm of Peace, Love and Happiness.

    Sam, Erin, Eric, Julie, Tony, and all…Check this out!
    1Peter 4:12&13
    12.Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
    13.But rejoice , inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy .

    Verse 12 Describes our trials in life
    Verse 13 is the place that we take these trials…into the sufferings of Christ, so that we can rejoice over the trials, because He has them(the trials)…He has us!

  5. Wendy says:

    Happy New Year! I am soooooo very excited for the Miracles God is doing in your lives. There is so much to celebrate….Sam is making incredible progress! I am bursting with joy for him, for both of you! Sam writing a word on the wipe board?WOW!! Feeling the urge to use the restroom? Incredible! Wanting to get out of bed to leave the hospital….I believe God is working on the Faith in Sam’s heart for his healing. I am bubbling with anticipation to get to visit with him again!
    I am also touched by the thoughtful and creative gifts people gave Sam for Christmas, including how they were wrapped so he could open them. Giving him a Nerf Football… what an excellent way to promote progress and fun!
    I am moved and blessed by the way Eric describes viewing God in comparison to a Father that is so faithful, reliable, dependable, One Whom we can expect blessings from. I am expecting continued blessings, healings, signs and wonders in Sam this year.
    I love you both and pray great love, joy, peace, strength, faith and hope for you!

  6. Dana Williams says:

    Awesome!!! I love it that Sam is impatient to get on with things! A momentous development, and very much a manifestation of God’s hand on him and Erin. Thank you Eric, for such a moving report. Hallelujah!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Awesome Sam! Or as Japanese say, Segoy! Love you guys stay strong. Can’t wait for you to go home man.

  8. soldiersangelswashington says:

    I’m late with my reply, but I’ve been here a few times to read the last blog entry over and over. WHY? Well…for one… you always include such great resources that I try to pass on to others, but of course the main reason is, I had this overwhelming thrill bubble up inside me to learn of Sam’s impatience with certain things. I too think this is a very good sign! I had to read the report over a couple of times because it was so incredibly moving! “This week is a movement by God on Sam and Erin’s behalf and nothing under the sun will convince me otherwise…” ME EITHER! You go Sam!! Big hugs to you all for your amazing spirits, faith, love and determination. As always you are an inspiration. My prayers continue daily for you all!!

    Julie Morelli
    Soldiers’ Angels

  9. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi Sam, Erin and Families —

    Just stopping by to say hi and check in on you all..I hope that Sam has been feeling well and has continued to make amazing progress. With each post he is continuing to do more and more and move closer to home. No problem at all making out the ‘great’ on the paper! How awesome! Saw some new pics on Flikr – my gosh you guys are such the perfect couple! What I wouldn’t do to have Sam’s gorgeous eyelashes 🙂

    God continues to work miracles in Sam and Erin. How blessed we are to be able to witness this restoration.

    God bless you Sam, Erin and the Nichols and Neria families. Thoughts, prayers, support and loads and loads of Angel Hugs come your way, every singe day. HUGS to you all!

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  10. I would be honored to let Obama fart. It would be a breath of fresh air

  11. ayecyyjIxy7 says:

    The thing that would certainly be great about this community forum is if you could actually sign up to threads that you make; Is this conceivable?

  12. ThadiaJaK says:


  13. Leonel says:

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