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What a great idea! Read how one woman created a foundation to help brain-injured teens in a unique, fun way.

From the Key Biscayne Times:

Forget the pesky mosquitoes, the leaden sky, the toasty summer temperatures. The teen patients from Jackson Memorial Hospital’s outpatient pediatric rehabilitation program were ready to par-tee.

Friday’s barbecue at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne was both celebration and therapy for the six young men and women who, just months ago, were at death’s door. All had sustained traumatic brain injuries, mostly in car accidents, and had endured countless rehab sessions within the past couple of years.

As part of their therapy, Garcia, Blanco and the rest of the group go on outings — kayaking and sailing have been two of the most recent ones —- to familiarize the patients with life outside the hospital. The barbecue was a field trip to enjoy, of course, but it was also designed to teach. The group had to plan a menu, make a list of what was needed, shop for it at the supermarket, pay for their purchases, then, finally, help with the actual cooking.

Sounds simple? Not quite.

“These kids are like the walking wounded,” said Jackson recreational therapist Kelly Messett. “They look like normal teenagers, but their processing skills, their planning and organization, the short term memory, all these are a problem.”

Though the outpatient rehab group has been around for a while, the field trips were made possible only this year, with the funding of the Caviglia Bluewater Foundation, created in memory of the Miami businessman and champion sailor Alex Caviglia who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a kite-boarding accident in 2003. He lived for almost a year before dying unexpectedly from a blood clot.

Caviglia’s widow, Silvia, came to Crandon to watch the young people flip the meat on the barbecue and laugh as they pedaled around the park on rented Surrey bikes.

She wants to raise awareness of the devastating and lifelong effects of TBI through the foundation. There are a lot of charities and worthy causes, she said, but she feels a special affinity for people who suffer from traumatic brain injury, as her husband did.

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