Marathoner Gives TED Talk About Overcoming Traumatic Brain Injury - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Marathoner Gives TED Talk About Overcoming Traumatic Brain Injury

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    Marathoner Gives TED Talk: Overcoming Brain Injury

    A 23-year-old North Texan gives a TED Talk Thursday night about hoping to qualify for the 2020 Olympics as the first runner to have suffered a traumatic brain injury. (Published Friday, Jan. 15, 2016)

    Olympic hopeful Jonathan Swiatocha has been sharing his story with audiences for many years, but Thursday night was his first time to give a TED Talk.

    "He’s inspired me tremendously not to ever give up," Jonathan's dad Ed Swiatocha said.

    Jonathan talked about overcoming a traumatic brain injury after he and his family were hit by an underage drunk driver in 2002.

    “My brain hit my skull on the right side very, very hard,” he said.

    At 10-years-old, Jonathan spent 18 days in the hospital. For part of that time, he was in a coma and then paralyzed from his waist down. Ed said the only thing he could do at the time was blink.

    "I said, 'Jonathan if you can hear me? Blink,'" he said. "And then the thought goes through your head, 'Is this all that my son’s going to be able to do?'"

    One day, while he was alone in his hospital room, Jonathan said he felt it in his heart to get up and walk. So he got out of bed and took his first step.

    "That really was my breaking point of my career to what it is today," he remembers. "That was my greatest athletic achievement because that was the turning point for me as far as not giving up and everything is going to be OK."

    Today, 23-year-old Jonathan is a marathon runner and hopes to qualify for the 2020 Olympics as the first runner to have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

    "I set that goal for myself, I stood by it, I proclaimed it, and I’m believing in it every single day," he said.

    Besides training for marathon, Jonathan also speaks all over North Texas about overcoming a TBI and the dangers of drinking and driving.

    Today, he is still recovering from the TBI. Doctors told him it would be a lifelong recovery process.

    "A couple years ago, I suffered severely from depression, from anger issues, blurred vision," he said. "All the symptoms from TBI."

    Jonathan runs because it brings him peace. And he sets high goals — like making it to the Olympic qualifier — to push himself as far as possible.

    "Over time, I’ve set a very high standard for myself," he said. "And it’s just been a journey so far."

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