Faria family paying it forward with fundraiser

Faria family paying it forward with fundraiser

Cameron Faria

CUMBERLAND – One Cumberland family’s world was turned upside down last summer when Cameron Faria was involved in a serious car accident that nearly took his life.

He was 17 years old, fresh off his junior year at Cumberland High School and just a few days into his summer landscaping job when the truck taking him to work veered off the road and into the trees, catching on fire.

Faria was trapped in the backseat when an off-duty firefighter put out the blaze and rescue workers removed him from the mangled wreck using the Jaws of Life.

He was taken to the hospital via med flight and kept in the intensive care unit for three and a half weeks, his mother Michelle said. On day seven, doctors removed half of his skull to reduce swelling on the brain. Two weeks later he underwent reconstructive jaw surgery.

It has been a long road to recovery for Cameron, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in the crash, which affected him physically and mentally.

He spoke his first word two months after the crash, giving his parents a glimmer of hope. Then, he remembered his phone password.

When he was discharged from the hospital he spent another three and a half months at Spaulding Rehab, then Sergeant Rehab until this August.

One year after his accident, Cameron is home and back at Cumberland High School after missing what would have been his senior year. Starting with learning how to swallow again, then how to talk and walk, every day Cameron has fought to get better.

“He’s walking, talking and making new memories,” Michelle said. “He’s a miracle."

The Farias have come a long way since the car crash last July. “We were just trying to get through the night. Then the week. Then the month. It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Michelle said. “He has a broken brain … it’s not like a broken leg that heals.”

Fortunately, his family said, the community rallied around them in their time of need.

It started with a blood drive at Cumberland High School last summer, which brought more than 100 donors in Cameron’s name.

“I remember walking into Cameron’s hospital room and seeing the blood hanging. He needed three units before surgery, and I just remember thinking: thank God someone donated.”

With so many people from the community wanting to help, Michelle’s friend Jill planned the blood drive at CHS. Others in Cumberland and Lincoln had lemonade stands and yard sales to raise money to support the family and Cameron’s treatment.

To pay it forward, they’ll be hosting a Halloween costume party and fundraiser for the Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island, supporting the organization’s mission of raising public awareness and helping TBI survivors and their families.

This will be the 2nd annual Halloween party fundraiser for the family, but the first open to the public. Last fall, friends and family held a private costume party to raise additional funds so that Michelle could stay home from work to care for Cameron full-time. More than 250 people attended.

“We want to thank our family, friends and community for their love, support, generosity and prayers through this journey,” Michelle said. “We had so many people reaching out. As tragic and horrific as this has been, some good has come out of it. When you focus on the good, the good gets better.”

By supporting the Brain Injury Association, she hopes to raise awareness about the seriousness and frequency of TBIs.

“I didn’t know anything about traumatic brain injuries before Cameron’s accident,” she said.

She now knows that TBIs are the leading cause of death and disability among children and adults in the U.S. and that an estimated 1.5 million people sustain a TBI every year. “Of those, only 230,000 are hospitalized and survive,” she said. “In Rhode Island a brain injury occurs every hour. Isn’t that just insane?”

For his part, Cameron, now 18, has taken his recovery in stride. “His attitude has never been ‘woe is me,’” Michelle said. “He knows things are different now, but he can see all of the improvements he has made. He inspires us every day. When you have a disability, knowing you aren’t defined by it is the sweetest thing.”

The 21-plus costume party will be held at Twelve Acres, 445 Douglas Pike in Smithfield, on Saturday, Oct. 26, beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com/e/2nd-annual-halloween-party-fundraiser-costume-conte... by Oct. 23. There will be a DJ, raffles, and hors d’oeuvre and a cash bar.

They are also accepting donations for the raffle table. Those interested can contact tmfaria@yahoo.com .