The Goulet family of Saco has channeled its grief into a mission: fitting 10,000 people in southern Maine with multisport helmets over the past six years.

The third annual Michael T. Goulet Foundation Gala at The Landing in Scarborough on Feb. 11 celebrated the foundation’s work and raised $10,000 to continue the fight against traumatic brain injuries.

“Even on a seemingly simple bike ride, disaster can happen,” said Dr. Ed Bilsky, a founding director of the Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences at the University of New England and a foundation board member. “And without a helmet, that can be a devastating head injury.”

That’s why the foundation has fitted thousands of Mainers for helmets bearing the words “Love Your Brain.”

“Our mission of prevention, education and outreach for traumatic brain injuries and epilepsy continues to thrive and grow,” said Danielle Goulet, who has organized the gala for the past three years as a way of honoring the memory of her brother, Michael T. Goulet, who died in 2010 after suffering a seizure as the result of a traumatic brain injury from a snowmobile accident years earlier. “We look forward to building new relationships, supporting new causes and protecting many more beautiful brains.”

“We go around to a lot of community events,” said board member Noel Poirier, who was Goulet’s intensive-care nurse before he died. “We’ve protected thousands of brains, which is huge.”

Many gala guests remembered Goulet, including Brittany Angelle, who dated him in high school. “He’s been gone for seven years, so it’s crazy to think that people still come out and remember him,” Angelle said. “But he was such a good person, always volunteering. There’s no one like him.”

“It’s bittersweet,” said Lynda LeBlanc, Goulet’s mother. “This is carrying on his legacy.”

“I’m amazed every time we have a gala,” said Brad Goulet, his father and president of the foundation. “We’re now about as big as we can get, being an all-volunteer organization.”

Gala guests included 35 people from the University of New England, including students, staff and professors.

“UNE provides a lot of volunteers, and the foundation provides grants for our K-12 outreach programs about brain health and brain safety,” said Mike Burman, an associate professor of psychiatry at UNE and a foundation board member.

“Little kids love learning about the brain,” said Kathryn Roy, a UNE medical biology student who volunteers at the annual Brain Fair.

Goulet was a junior at St. Joseph’s College in Standish when he died. Even before the helmet initiative, the foundation sought to encourage other students at St. Joseph’s who were persevering after a brain injury or who hope to work with patients who have brain injuries. Lauren Faeth of Jay, a survivor of a head-on car crash, fell into both those categories and received a foundation scholarship to attend St. Joseph’s her sophomore through senior years.

“It is because of this foundation that I was able to not only graduate with my bachelor’s degree in nursing this past May, but to also find what I want to do in my career,” said Faeth, who has joined the foundation’s board of directors and speaks at events.

“Lauren is a survivor who probably wouldn’t have gone to college if not for her indomitable spirit,” Brad Goulet said. “She’s become not only a major part of the organization but part of our family.”

“The foundation has given her another purpose,” said Michelle Howard, a development officer at St. Joseph’s. “She’s the most inspiring young woman I know.”

Supported by crutches, Faeth addressed gala guests, less than two weeks after her most recent surgery following a below-the-knee amputation of her right foot.

“After multiple surgeries to save my foot, I found out about a surgery that will put an end to the constant pain and difficulty walking,” Faeth said. “This is a chance for me to finally get my life back, to inspire others and advocate for individuals who have experienced brain injuries and orthopedic problems and amputees.”

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

[email protected]