WHITESBORO, TX - A family doctor well known and liked in Whitesboro is hoping to open up a new medical facility in Whitesboro specifically to help rehabilitate and treat people with traumatic brain injuries. But his mission is not only a passion, but it’s very personal as well.
Dr. John Galewaler will never forget the day that changed his life 12 and a half years ago.
"The Galewalers remember 5-11-97 when my son, Sean, had a traumatic brain injury at 119 miles an hour impact,” said Galewaler.
At 19 years old, Sean Galewaler was partially paralyzed from the accident and no longer able to speak.
Natasha Phillips, a close family friend, said Doctor John spent the next 12 years searching for new ways to help rehabilitate his son. She said he even traveled all over the country looking for new treatments and answers.
"Dr. John went way above and beyond not only as a father but as a doctor. You know this was something that was so special to him and meant so much and he just did everything he could in every capacity to help Sean,” said Phillips.
But last March Sean died from his injuries at the age of 32. Galewaler was by his son’s side to the end.
"Never did I, as a father, think that I would be pronouncing my own son dead, but I had to,” said Galewaler.
But he’s turning his tragedy into hope, by working to open up The Brain Injury Centers in Whitesboro. He wants to help others like Sean and give them and their families hope.
"Because of his accident I have been on a mission for traumatic brain injury and the reason is because we're not taking care of these people, it's a sad state of affairs when one in 20 get adequate care,” said Galewaler.
The Center for Disease Control reports staggering statistics:
• 1.5 million Americans suffer from traumatic brain injuries
• A traumatic brain injury occurs every 15 seconds
• It’s the number one cause of death in children and young adults
• Fewer than 1 in 20 will get the facts they need
• It causes 1.5 times more deaths than AIDS
Phillips, a local nurse, is partnering with Galewaler to bring the Center to life. She was also close friends with Sean and has seen firsthand how difficult it can be to get proper treatment for traumatic brain injuries.
"They think there's no hope for those patients and they're kind of put in the back. And for Dr. John you know that's the forefront of his mind of what he wants to do,” she said.
The Brain Injury Centers will use traditional treatments for brain injuries, as well as music therapy, acupuncture and spiritual approaches.
"We will be dealing with 52 traumatically brain injured people, give us the ones no one else wants, those are the ones we want,” said Galewaler.
The non-profit center won't be cheap, costing about 1.8 million dollars to get it started. Galewaler has already purchased 46 acres in Whitesboro to build the Center, which will be named Sean’s Haven.
"Well you know it is a really big undertaking but I really believe in Dr. John and in his cause. And I think if everybody remains positive and is as supportive as they can be then this is something we can actually make happen,” said Phillips.
Right now Doctor John is planning the first fundraising event for Sean's Haven:
• Date: Saturday, October 9, 2010
• Time: 12:00 p.m. Food and Fun for Everyone
• Place: 377 North - Whitesboro, Texas (Behind the Dairy Queen)
• Cost: $20 if purchased in advance, $25 at the door.
• Live Music from Steven Pride, bother of renowned artist Charlie Pride, The Kevin Deal Band and local artists Olden Young, Scotty Thurman & The Perfect Trouble Band, and BoisD’arks
• Food & Fun Bounce Houses for the Children and more
For more information about contributing, or to purchase a ticket Please call or email at (903) 651-1863 or firstname.lastname@example.org