Gur Singh Memorial Golf Tournament an opportunity for survivors to share their stories

By Chad Klassen
September 7, 2018 - 3:22pm Updated: September 7, 2018 - 5:30pm

KAMLOOPS — For the 15th time, the Gur Singh Memorial Golf Tournament teed off at The Dunes on Friday. First started by the Singh family in 2004, it's a tournament now run by the Kamloops Brain Injury Association, and the money raised from the day will help many Kamloops and area residents who are living with a brain injury every year.

"Brain injury is invisible because you can't see inside other people's skulls, and there's a lot of survivors in the community that people don't realize," said executive director of the Kamloops Brain Injury Association David Johnson. "So what we do with this event is we get a lot of the survivors to come out and they get to be open and say 'I'm a survivor and I can still do stuff.'"

Marie Stewart has lived with a brain injury for the last 51 years, involved in a serious car accident in 1967 that almost left her dead in her early 20s. 

"I was in a car accident in North Vancouver, and when they phoned my family in Kamloops, they said I had less than a 50 per cent chance of survival," noted Stewart. "But I did wake up in 10 days."

Stewart, who raised two children following the accident, says she lived through the side effects such as memory issues, not realizing she was suffering from the effects of a brain injury until about 15 years ago. 

"Doctors I had been to before, they would just say 'I see you've got a head injury.' There was nothing further said," Stewart said. "Then I came to the brain injury office and I had a doctor send a requisition to Kelowna. After a full day of testing, he told me he didn't know how I was able to live as well as I have."

For the Singh family, it's an honour to be part of the tournament to recognize the works of Gur, a neurosurgeon in Kamloops who got involved with the brain injury association following retirement. He unfortunately passed away from ALS in 2015. 

"My dad certainly would operate on people in the operating room and would discharge them when he was practicing," said his son Arjun Singh. "So when he got involved after retirement in the association, he met a lot of people who were post-operation. He was really able to understand a bit about their stories and their lives in a more meaningful way. Our family has had a really amazing experience, I'd say, learning about people with brain injuries and know what some of their successes and some of their struggles are."

Events like this allow survivors like Marie to come together and share their experiences, not only with fellow survivors but also with the golfers. 

"This is wonderful. I've been coming for a long time. I really, really enjoy it because we meet with people that don't know about brain injuries and they ask us questions and I can tell them what I go through. It's a learning situation for the community." 

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