About Us

Our Story

We’re MOVING FORWARD! is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (ID# 47-2199053) founded by three women whose own lives were dramatically impacted by a traumatic brain injury of a family member.  Ronda Alcorn, Linda Countryman, and Tara Pepiton all have sons who were the unfortunate victims of such an injury. Since 2009 we have been organizing social events and activities ranging from a simple trip to the movies to a three-day adventure out of town.  In October of 2014, we formally became a nonprofit to continue offering this very important avenue for growth, allow us to reach more families and provide a wider range of group activities.  The organization is structured in such a way as to try to involve the entire group in the planning, funding, and execution of activities and events, further providing the stepping stones for our participants to initiate and become involved in the rebuilding of their own social lives while fostering new and ongoing personal relationships. Donations and fundraising proceeds to We’re MOVING FORWARD! go toward group activities and events and the costs associated with them.  We are an all-volunteer organization.  Our overhead is limited to expenses incurred by maintaining the organizations infrastructure as there are no salaries to be drawn and no profit to be made by anyone involved in the management or operation of We’re MOVING FORWARD!

IMAGINE…

…one day you’re living a normal, active life, full of friends and social activities—living and loving life to its fullest and the next, you’re waking up in a hospital bed unable to remember what you just had for breakfast, learning that you are unable to walk or talk or even feed yourself. Over the next several months you will have to work very hard, through all the pain, to regain at least some of what you once took for granted would always be there. You find yourself wondering how it was even possible to have lost it all in the first place. Months and years may pass before even the simplest things become second nature again (if ever). Your friends have slowly moved on with their lives while your days are spent in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. You and your family become more and more isolated as you struggle to redefine your lives following a brain injury.

You may be a young adult just getting started in life, looking forward to striking out on your own, or you may be an older adult with a family and a career that you worked very hard for. But now, because of your physical, cognitive, or emotional limitations, you can no longer attend regular classes at college or maintain your focus to continue on with your job. You are no longer able to drive a car and may need assistance when leaving the confines of your own home because your memory, vision, or physical ability makes venturing out on your own a safety issue. So, most of your days are now spent at home alone or, if you’re lucky, in the company of a family member who has become your primary caregiver, supporter, and friend. This is often the new life of a brain injury survivor—but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Since the onset of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there have been great advances made in the treatment of traumatic and acquired brain injury, however, social reintegration is one of the most overlooked and underfunded areas of recovery. Following such a traumatic event and long recovery, many survivors and their families are also left with overwhelming medical costs and financial hardships that result from taking so much time away from their jobs. And while some survivors may eventually be able to return to work in a more limited capacity, many remain unemployable due to their disability. As a consequence, they find themselves unable to include social activities as an important part of their ongoing recovery. That’s where we come in.

We’re MOVING FORWARD! was formally established as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization as a means to facilitate and fund social events and activities for brain injury survivors and their immediate family members.

Your generous donations allow us to offset these costs and continue offering this very important avenue for growth in a way that will allow us to reach more families and provide a wider range of group activities. Money raised through donations and other fundraising efforts go directly toward the funding of group events and activities and their associated costs. Our overhead is limited only to those expenses necessary to maintain the organizations infrastructure as there are no salaries to be drawn and no profit to be made by anyone involved in the management or operation of We’re MOVING FORWARD!

Thank you! Your support and generous donation is greatly appreciated!

As always, we encourage and welcome anyone whose life has been affected by brain injury and find themselves in similar circumstances to contact us and get involved!

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BOARD of DIRECTORS

Ronda J. Alcorn

Ronda J. Alcorn

President

Ronda is a Co-Founder of We’re MOVING FORWARD!  Her son Austin suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2006 from a roll over car accident caused from falling asleep at the wheel.  Ronda is a former Board Member of the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona.

Tara L. Pepiton

Tara L. Pepiton

Treasurer

Tara is a Co-Founder of We’re MOVING FORWARD! and caregiver to her son Adam who suffered a traumatic brain injury from being shot in the head during a drive by shooting in 2010.  Tara also serves on the Governor’s council for Spinal Cord and Head Injuries.

Justin Larson

Justin Larson

Secretary

Justin is a Financial Solutions Advisor at Bank of America.  Justin’s wife Sandra suffered a stroke in 2005.

Chey Tor

Chey Tor

Chey Tor is a real estate professional with RE/MAX Omni Consultants and Property Management.  He has more than 10 years’ experience in sales and marketing.

Lauren A. Bostick, Esq.

Lauren A. Bostick, Esq.

Lauren is an attorney with Rachel Frazier Johnson, practicing in Divorce, Child Custody, Spousal Maintenance, Child Support, Adoption, Estate Planning (Wills and Trusts), Personal Injury, Contracts, and Business Law.

Michelle M. Lauer, Esq.

Michelle M. Lauer, Esq.

Michelle is an elder law attorney who practices in the areas of probate & trust administration, guardianship & conservatorship proceedings, and estate & long-term care planning.

FEATURED VOLUNTEER

If you have attended We’re MOVING FORWARD! for a while, you are probably already familiar with The Buhr Family.  Stan, Theresa, and their son Corey started attending our activities a few years before we officially became a non-profit.


Corey sustained a traumatic brain injury in 2002 in a car accident and since that time, his parents have made sure that Corey has as many opportunities as possible, including some of Corey’s favorites like fishing and hunting.

The Buhr’s are involved in many community events that help people with varying abilities including Kamp Kan Do, for adult brain injury survivors, Camp with a Ramp, for adult spinal cord injury survivors and Arizona Adaptive Watersports for all ages and abilities.

We have Stan Buhr to thank for Day in the Country which has become an annual event for WMF.  For years Stan had wanted to have brain injury survivors and their families out to their home in Maricopa.  Together we helped Stan realize his dream.  This event has grown so large that it is now held at the property of one of Stan and Theresa’s other children, down the road from where it originally took place.  This event includes adaptive hayrides so that everyone can participate.

Our Annual Up North Adventure has also become even more enjoyable since the Buhr’s started bringing their pontoon boat to Willow Springs Lake, which allows individuals using a wheelchair to be able to access the lake for boat rides and fishing.

To allow you the opportunity to get to know this family better, they have provided answers to a variety of questions.

Question:  What’s your first memory of WMF?

Answer:
Stan and Theresa: The announcement that the activity group was becoming a non-profit.

Corey: Agreed with his parents.

Question:  What’s the best thing to happen since you started participating/volunteering with/for WMF?

Answer:
Stan and Theresa:  Seeing all the smiles on all the survivors and families when group gets together.

Corey:  Meeting new friends and seeing friends already made.

Question:  What do you wish other people knew about WMF?

Answer:
Stan and Theresa:  That participating in this group helps promote a sense of well being whether a survivor or family member of a survivor.

Corey:  Helps you feel better about yourself.  Really nice people.  Fun.

Question:  Why are you supporting WMF as opposed to other groups working on (the Cause)?

Answer:
Stan and Theresa: Our survivor gets more from WMF than any other group and it is the only social group we know of.  Survivors need socialization in a “safe – emotionally safe” environment.

Corey:  Friends.  The one my parents take me to.

Question:  Tell us about some of the people you’ve met while participating/volunteering for/with WMF?

Answer:
Stan and Theresa:  Really good people with similar situations.  This helps you feel comfortable and better about your own situation.  Whether survivor or family member, everyone genuinely cares about the others in the group.  We’ve made true friends.

Corey Other participants accept me the way I am.

Question:  Tell us about someone who has influenced your decision to volunteer with WMF?

Answer:
Stan and Theresa: The energy, time and passion of the three founding members.

 

Question:  What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?

Answer:
Theresa: That I am very nervous and have a lot of anxiety when I get together with people or go to events, trips etc.  Sometimes, even in my own home.  Since WMF, I have less anxiety and better accept my short comings.  The nerves are also less before a WMF activity/event than with other things now.  I look more forward to WMF events than other activities we do.

Corey: Worry about other participants getting to do what they want to do, or having fun, worry about those who sit by themselves.  Would like to talk to them and encourage them.

Question:  What would you tell someone who is thinking about (donating, volunteering, etc.)?

Answer:
Stan:  They won’t regret it.  Great organization for people with brain injuries to feel normal.  They want to see those smiles.

Theresa: Help them learn things about themselves they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to learn.  Not only will they be humbled, they will feel fulfilled in a way they can only experience by doing it.

Corey:  You should, and it helps people in WMF.  (Corey felt very strongly about this question!)

Question:  If you weren’t (volunteering, using services, etc.), what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?

Answer:
Stan and Theresa:  If we weren’t involved/volunteering we would have less joy…..looking for emotional/mental relief.

Corey:  Parents would take me to do things, but own personal socialization would not be the same.

Question:  What do you do when you aren’t (participating, volunteering)?

Answer:
Stan:  Care for our own survivor and doing home modifications for disabled – helping them stay in their homes.

Theresa:  Busy caring for survivor and household.  Looking forward to next time seeing participants of WMF.

Corey:  Waiting for events/activities, especially those of WMF.

Question:  What else can you tell me about (the Nonprofit or the Cause)?

Answer:
Stan: Where else would they get to do that? (regarding those using wheelchairs dancing at one of WMF’s recent events.)

Now that you know the Buhr’s better, we encourage you to introduce yourself and thank them personally the next time you see them!

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