Amazing Kids! eZine Interviews
Shaun Best, Brain-Trauma Survivor

by Klenton, 17

AK: What is a trauma related injury?

SB: A trauma related injury is an injury that happens unexpectedly.

AK: What could you say to those who are going through a trauma related injury?

SB: I would encourage others dealing with trauma in their lives to be resilient and patient; conquering these injuries is an opportunity for you to demonstrate success through BARS: Believe Achieve Receive Success. Always remember, there are others who've dealt with these situations, successfully, and they want you to achieve success.

AK: What would you say to those who have family members that are experiencing a trauma related injury?

SB: Please be patient with our slow recovery. We may not act like before because certain areas of the brain have been altered, even though we look normal. My family, school friends, churches-local and surrounding areas, strangers, etc., prayed for my recovery, while I was in this coma; this has meant a lot to me over the years, and I know that your friends and rivals can do the same. Even opposing football players wrote me notes of care while I was in my coma. It has taken over 30 years for the correct medication combination to be found for me, so please be patient. It is worth the wait! Thankfully, I'm doing things not done in over 30 years. Improvements will be slow, but those little steps can lead to greater strides in your steps.

AK: What was your dream as a child?

SB: My dream was to serve the nation that secured my recovery from an open-heart surgery in 1969, through both service in the US Air Force (Jet Pilot) and the Olympics (swimming and diving). However, after my traumatic brain injury in 1977, both the Air Force & the Olympics were less likely because of my brain injured condition and cognitive challenges.

AK: What are you doing to help achieve that dream, even though you have had a trauma related injury?

SB: I'm serving our nation as a substitute teacher for SubTeachUSA. I get to teach our future leaders/adults that they can achieve most anything that they desire through the positive learning style vs. negative learning styles. I've successfully taught over 54 school days this school year ('07-'08). As a substitute teacher, I'm delivering first-handed human honor for those who will deal with cognitive/behavioral challenges vs. dishonor. I'm serving my nation in a humane manner, which our forefathers would take delight.

AK: Do you believe that our audience can fulfill their dreams after a trauma related injury? If so, why?

SB: Yes. Please remember that after my first head/brain/cognitive injury at age 12, many said I would never walk, talk, complete high school, etc. There have been many additional traumatic injuries/events, but the courage to do the impossible is still strong. I've received 2 college degrees: an Associate Degree from Southern Arkansas University's Technical Branch in 1985, and a Bachelor Degree from the University of Arkansas in 1993. Many said this was impossible; some today doubt the documents/degrees I hold. I'm now teaching school where the children/future adults are ages (4-8). Some people told me that I would never be able to teach, but I never stopped trying. God has never failed me, because I sought His guidance. I trust His direction & inspiration. The realization of my dreams has been seen through the visualization attitude of success, teaching.

AK: What was the most encouraging thing to you during your recovery process?

SB: My grandmother and her sisters have always said that I could do anything I wanted to. This has been reaffirmed by the woman who loves me, today, my wife.

AK: Please tell us about your speaking engagements and the message you share.

SB: I have attended many conferences around the world, and the message I've voiced over the last 16 years promotes the human condition through positive speaking and ideas. I promote that God created us all with the intelligence to succeed, however, it is how we address challenges that makes us different. I've a webpage at that documents much of my life. I promote that together, God and I will activate, educate, motivate, stimulate, and validate, everyone to know that conquering cognitive challenges is possible. My motto is "BARS are Opportunities"; Believe Achieve Receive Success.

AK: Do you see people differently since you have been disabled?

SB: I don;t remember what it was to be non-disabled/non-challenged, so I still consider myself a human as others, capable of anything, according to the Bible. True, when I returned to school my friends called me negative things, however I refused to believe them. I was headed for the Olympics; therefore I was definitely not negative. The dictionaries then, as now, paint a poor picture of our recovered potential/status. I don't blame anyone for this negative condition, however I work to share with others His positive light/position, thus sparing human potential the dismal state of failure.

AK: How would you like people to think of and treat people who have suffered a trauma related injury?

SB: Please, treat us like you want to be treated: humanely (with kind respect).

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