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.

Katy Kutnyak

Katy Kutnyak

Katy is a Financial Advisor with Renaissance Financial where she develops customized financial strategies that fit each unique individual, capitalizing on the collaborative environment of the firm to help others succeed. She specializes in special needs, retirement, and business planning strategies.

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.

SURVIVOR SOCIAL COMMITTEE

The 2020 Survivor Social Committee  was randomly selected from names submitted during our Masquerade Ball themed dinner and dance this past December.  These survivors consider ideas and suggestions from their peers and meet to help plan and organize additional “Pop Up” activities for 2020, and plan activities and events for 2021 including the theme for our Annual Dinner and Dance in December. 

Back Row – Left to Right:  Billy Bridgewater, Austin Alcorn, Evie Williams, Michelle McKay and Anthony Bouldin

Front Row – Left to Right:  Katie Griffith, Nick Ruppert, Adam Pepiton and Luis Balaguer (Not pictured – Oliver Bryan)

FEATURED VOLUNTEER

We are so grateful to have Duane as a regular volunteer for We’re MOVING FORWARD!  He is such an integral part of assisting us at our annual events such as the Survivor Celebration Picnic, Adaptive Baseball, Up North Adventure, Day in the Country and our Christmas Dinner and Dance. 

We wanted to share a bit more about Duane for you to get to know him better.


Duane is one of the founders of Neuro & Brain Performance Centers, with over 17 years of experience in neuro rehabilitation.

Duane graduated from University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy.  He began working in skilled nursing then entered middle management of a national rehab company supervising physical therapists throughout Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.

Selfless would be a great word to describe Duane, as he helps so many other organizations as well, which include serving as President of Neuro and Brain Community Foundation, Board member of the Next Step Foundation, and Will 2 Walk Foundation.  He is the co-founder of Camp With A Ramp for those with spinal cord injuries, a regular volunteer with Lifewaters Foundation for adapted scuba diving, Day On The Lake with Barrows Neurological Institute, Arizona Adaptive Watersports, Arizona Disabled Sports, AZ Spinal Cord Injury Association, and Camp Can Do with the Brain Injury Alliance.  He is also an AT Still University Clinical Instructor of the year.

The next time that you see Duane at one of our events, please make sure to introduce yourself and thank him for all that he does for We’re MOVING FORWARD! and the community.

Question:  Tell us how you first got involved in with WMF.

Answer:
I met Austin at Day On The Lake about 12 years ago. He was walking through the gravel at the cove with his walker. He was tenacious and would not quit.

Question:  What’s your first memory of WMF?

Answer:
I’m not sure when WMF was formed, but I worked every year with the Alcorns with Day On The Lake and BIAAZ back when Mattie Cummins was the director. Every summer I would work with the Alcorns at Camp Can Do. When WMF was formed, it seemed a great opportunity to continue working with an amazing group of people.

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

Answer:
That it is available. So many people with TBIs become reclusive and are unaware of the many opportunities that exist to get people with TBIs out of the house and having fun.

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

Answer:
So many high quality people who have overcome tremendous physical and emotional trials and tribulations. The Alcorns, the Pepitons, the Buhrs. Amazing, generous people unified through tragedy that give of themselves to make other peoples’ lives a little happier, more fun.

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

Answer:
Austin is quite the ladies’ man. I was always kind of a nerd in my younger years and wish I had had “game” like Austin does. Great confidence and willingness to help others.

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

Answer:
Before becoming a PT, I used to be a mortician.

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

Answer:
Come out to some of our activities and see the smiles on faces of people who have conquered tremendous tragedy and difficulties in their lives. Absorbing their strength and positive attitudes gives others hope and strength and inspiration to face their own personal challenges.

Now that you know Duane better, we encourage you to introduce yourself and thank him personally the next time you see him!

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