My children Shannalei, Ian and I started this foundation in memory of my brother, Junior Seau. I remember the day I stood over his body with my hands on his shoulder. In that quiet moment as I looked down at him, I heard his voice.
He said, “Brain.”
I thought, “What about the brain?”
He said, “Go and help the kids. Start at the beginning.”
At first, I didn’t know what he meant. Soon to be six feet under pushing plumeria flowers from below the ground, I was too overcome with grief to think much about his message.
People try to soften the blow by saying, “He is with the Lord now” and “He is in a better place.” Fact of the matter is, my brother is still gone. Junior no longer has the pain of this world to deal with. However, I do. This is because I believe his death was needless. I had questions in the beginning. I saw that Junior was experiencing problems and many of them were visable. For instance, his pupils continuously changed in size, he often appeared confused and withdrawn. When I questioned him, he would say, “I’m fine.” He knew I wasn't satisfied with his answers because I continued asking more questions about his eyes, facial expression and medication. What I didn’t know was that I was staring at the lasting result of brain trauma in the face.
So, here I am, honoring my brother’s words to me. I started this foundation in 2015. It is my wish to inform and to educate the greater community regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). I have partnered with Dr. Anne McKee from the Early CTE Research Program at Boston University. Her research is used to help understand the long-term effects of previous brain injuries, including any association with CTE. By supporting Dr. McKee's research and similar research on CTE, I hope to increase the awareness and understanding of how CTE can destroy the quality of life for those suffering from it. I believe research, education and prevention are the answer.
- Mary Seau