With a first-hand understanding of life with a Traumatic Brain Injury, Meredith Casey organized a campaign to deliver gifts to children who will wake up in the hospital on Christmas Day.
Casey, a Freshman at North Reading High School, suffered a life-changing brain injury five years ago. She since created a non-profit, the Mighty Meredith Project, dedicated to raising awareness about Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and helping others with a message of kindness at the heart of her organization.
The motto: "Be Kind, It’s Good For the Mind."
Many of this year's fundraising events for the Mighty Meredith Project were cancelled due to the pandemic, but that didn’t stop her from spreading kindness.
Right now, Casey is in the middle of running a Fill The Box campaign, an annual toy and gift card drive that benefits the Child Life organizations at the two hospitals where she continues to receive care: The Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center and Boston Children's Hospital.
About 250 gifts were delivered to neurology clinics at the two hospitals Friday and will be handed out to children on Christmas.
“My neurologist comes up to me with tears in his eyes and is like, 'You’re Santa Clause. You’re their Santa Clause, Meredith,'" Casey said. "And everyone in my community helps so I think it brings the community together, especially this year. It’s going to be something special.”
The presents were wrapped by North Reading High School students this year as part of their community service credits. In the past, Casey has held wrapping parties with friends, but had to adapt this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The goal is to gift $20,000 to the hospitals. Donations can be made at the Mighty Meredith website, through Amazon, or by downloading the complete wish list and dropping items off at a designated site.
The community also banded together to write 500 thank you notes to first responders, each with a $5 dollar gift card to Dunkin' inside.
"Just a little thank you for all you do," Casey said.
Sharing Her Story
Casey was only 11 years old when she suffered a life-changing brain injury on Dec. 15, 2015.
“I was in fifth grade," Casey recalled. "I was picking up my science homework - a fluke accident - and I stood right up into my granite counter top.”
After feeling sick for days, doctors told Casey she had a concussion. But over the next few months, her health continued to decline.
“Months went by, I had my first MRI scan - nothing," Casey said. "Second MRI scan- there was a blood clot found at the base of my brain.”
During this time, Casey lost her balance and needed a cane. She went to physical therapy, tried alternative medicine and endured endless tests. Finally, medical professionals came to a diagnosis- a Traumatic Brain Injury. A condition that affects her every single day of her life.
“I live in chronic pain. Everyday pain," Casey said. "People ask me on a scale of one to 10 - I hate the scale, I hate the scale so much - scale of one to 10 it’s a seven. People say, 'That’s so high.' I’m kind of used to it at this point. I don’t know what a day without pain is like.”
She chose to battle that pain through the Mighty Meredith Project, which is built on three pillars; mighty smart, mighty giving and mighty kind.
“I started it to raise awareness for traumatic brain injuries, give back to the medical community and my favorite- promote kindness," Casey said. "It really sprouted from the kindness that other people showed me during my toughest of days.”
That kindness came from the community, doctors and child life-specialists who became an integral part of her life.