A Night Out for Healing: Friends to raise money for car-accident victim

Friends who help friends in need are friends indeed.

After Des Moines psychotherapist and peace activist Elizabeth (Katy) Brant suffered a serious head injury during a car accident last December, her friends became her support network. They prepared meals for her, helped maintain her finances and took her to doctor visits.

When Brant's treatment costs increased, her friends sent out a letter to her other friends and associates asking for any monetary help they could provide.

Now these friends are sponsoring A Night Out for Healing benefit event for Brant on Tuesday, Nov. 23, at the Irish Immigrant pub, 5260 University Way N.E., in the University District.

Fund-raising friends

The event, which will take place from 6 to 9 p.m., will include Celtic music by Greenwood musician Ray Carney and a screening of the 1987 Academy Award winner for Best Animated Film, "The Man Who Planted Trees," an uplifting movie about a man who transforms a barren landscape into an oasis by simply planting trees.

A donation of $20 is suggested for admission.

The Irish Immigrant's owner, Pat Coyne, is donating the space, the finger food and the raffle prizes he secured from his suppliers for the event.

Organizers hope to raise about $2,000 toward Brant's "ordinary" costs, said anti-war activist Jack Smith. "We can't solve all of her issues, but we can raise money to help her."

Brant's friends have already contributed $15,000 toward Brant's medical costs and everyday expenses, said close friend Karen Moore, who's been helping Brant since the accident.

And they're already considering another fund-raising event for early next year.

'Great hope'

Brant has been able to pay for most of her bills with her insurance money and the contributions she's received from friends and associates, but she still owes about $7,000 to Swedish Medical Center.

And Brant needs $28,000 to pay for three months of rehabilitation therapy she's receiving for about six hours a day, three days a week at Virginia Mason Medical Center. Her doctors recently recommended a fourth month of treatment.

Brant had sustained a "moderate traumatic brain injury," Moore explained. An uninsured driver had rear-ended the car Brant was a passenger in while they traveled on Interstate 5 south of Tacoma on Dec. 7, 2003. The impact caused Brant to hit her head on the side of the vehicle.

Brant initially suffered seizures. They've subsided, but Brant continues to have problems with her "working memory," which affects her focus and organizational skills, and her balance also has been badly affected, Moore said.

The everyday functioning that people take for granted, like remembering to eat, are "exhausting for [Brant]," Moore added.

However, with the therapy, doctors have assured Brant she will regain 85 to 95 percent of her previous level of functioning.

"I would like to be 100 percent," said Brant, who's functioning at 40 percent now. "But I'm grateful to know there's great hope [for me]."

'The beauty of humanity'

The therapy Brant has received so far has allowed her to see some of her clients two days a week in her private practice. They're people she's seen awhile, so it's not difficult for her to organize and do the paperwork, she said.

But Brant is still worried about money, she said, because she's always prided herself on having good credit. To keep her mind off the uncertainty of being in debt, Brant is focusing on staying "in present time."

That and the overwhelming support she's received from her friends, especially some she didn't think knew her very well.

"I'm totally amazed and blown away," Brant said. "They're busy people taking time to deal with me. It's very humbling.... I'm seeing the beauty of humanity again."

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