More than 200 people came out of the cold for a black tie event at the Landing in Scarborough on Valentine’s weekend for the second annual Michael T. Goulet Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy Foundation Gala.

Michael T. Goulet of Saco suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a snowmobile accident in 2003 when he was 13. His miraculous recovery included weeks in a coma, months of intensive rehabilitation, and years of further medical care.

“Michael’s progress and recovery was very difficult but also incredible,” said Brad Goulet, explaining that Michael first had to relearn how to walk and talk and ultimately went to Saint Joseph’s College and dreamed of being a psychologist working with brain injury patients.

In Michael’s case, the TBI resulted in seizures, and in 2010 complications from a seizure led to his death.

Shortly after Michael’s death, Brad Goulet contacted Ed Bilsky, vice president for research and scholarship at the University of New England. UNE has a neuroscience center known for teaching local K-12 students how the brain works and how to keep it safe.

“It was so raw and emotional,” Bilsky said of that first message. But the Goulets’ desire to honor Michael’s life and the University’s mission to promote helmet use were a natural fit.

“Working with the Goulets has really helped me to understand how (brain injury) affects a person and a family in detail,” said Foundation board member Michael Burman, assistant professor at UNE’s Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences.

The Goulet Foundation, now in its fifth year as a nonprofit, fit 1,500 kids with helmets last year.

“It’s magical,” said Michelle Beane of Saco. “It’s great to see the community supporting such a wonderful event.”

“This is me keeping my brother alive, and this is where I feel closest to him,” said board member Danielle Goulet of Old Orchard Beach. “Besides, we have terrible Maine winters and we like dressing up and not wearing Ugg boots.”

The goundation also honors Michael’s dream of graduating from college and working with brain injury patients. Goulet Foundation scholarship recipients Garrett Hubner and Lauren Faeth – both students at Saint Joseph’s – attended the gala.

When she was 17, Faeth had a medical issue while driving and was in a head-on collision, resulting in a TBI and other injuries.

“I remember doctors explaining how I might not be able to walk or go to college, and if I did, nursing school would be out of the question,” Faeth said.

But she was determined, and Saint Joseph’s held her acceptance for a year, giving her time to fight her way back.

“With every brain injury, you never know how quickly someone will bounce back or if they even will,” Faeth said. “In a matter of minutes, let alone seconds, your life can be changed forever. The normal I used to be I’ll never be again. And although every day is a challenge, I’ve learned it’s a challenge worth fighting for.”

This spring, she is graduating with a degree in nursing and hopes to continue through graduate school to become a nurse psychologist to help others with similar struggles.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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