- Jamie O’Brien And Ohana Surf Shop Help Florida’s Brooke Thabit Keep Her Spirits Up After A Traumatic Neck Injury
Written by Allison Arteaga
It was Labor Day weekend, and like all the other local kids, Brooke Thabit was enjoying her time off from school and goofing around with a few friends. They were all sitting on a dock overlooking the water, and Brooke, decided to jump off the dock into the water. What she didn’t know was that it was only about knee-deep. Her feet left that dock, and for a second, she hung suspended in mid-air. What happened next would change everything.
A senior at Jensen Beach High School in South Florida, Brooke is an avid surfer deeply entrenched in the Treasure Coast community. She’s also a teamrider and employee at Ohana Surf Shop who’s always happy to help out with Ohana’s community service work with Surfers For Autism and The Special Olympics. “She’s an awesome person,” said Ohana Surf Shop owner Jordan Schwartz. “She’s really funny and has a great sense of humor, so everyone loves her.”
It was Brooke’s good-hearted nature that made what happened on that Labor Day weekend so devastating. When she jumped off the dock, the shallow water couldn’t adequately slow her momentum, and she broke her neck, also damaging her spinal cord in the process. Instantly paralyzed, Brooke was rushed to the hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery. Just as she was being wheeled into the operating room, she gave her mother a kiss and told her, “Don’t worry; it will be okay. I’ll walk again.” And when Brooke said it, her mother believed it. Because if anyone has the sort of boundless enthusiasm necessary to recover from such a massive injury, it’s Brooke. That’s just the sort of girl she is.
In the weeks that followed, Brooke’s spirits have remained high. Progress has been slow, but she’s gradually regained feeling in her body all the way down to her waist, and before she knew it, she could move her arms and even begin to wiggle her toes. She’s been watching surf videos all day and happily entertaining a constant stream of visitors. “Her attitude is amazing,” said Brooke’s mother, Alison. “Everyone comes in here upset for her, and they leave feeling better about it.”
Of all the visitors who stopped in at Brooke’s hospital room over the past few weeks, one has especially stood out. Body Glove teamrider and Hawaiian heavy Jamie O’Brien, one of Brooke’s favorite surfers, was scheduled to pay a visit to Ohana Surf Shop in early September. Brooke had been looking forward to meeting him and was bummed out that she wouldn’t be able to swing by the shop. But, much to her surprise, Ohana Surf Shop and her parents arranged for Jamie to meet up with Brooke in her hospital room. He ended up hanging out for about an hour and even invited her to stay at his house for the Pipe Masters 2013.
It’s the greatest thing that has happened to Brooke since the accident. “It was just incredible,” her mother said. “That was the best smile we’ve seen from her yet.” And Brooke believes that all the support has been a big influence on her positive attitude. “It was cool to see Jamie, and it’s awesome that Ohana has done so much for me,” she said. “It brought life to this hospital room, because it gets kind of boring sitting here all the time.”
Brooke’s outlook has never been better, and over the coming weeks, her family is preparing to relocate her to a rehab facility in Atlanta. They’re feeling good about Brooke’s future but will also need all the help they can get to pay for her treatment. Ohana Surf Shop set up a donation page to raise money for the family, and so far, the fund has collected almost $5,000. “The love from the community has just been pouring in,” Brooke’s mother said. “We could never thank everyone enough. It’s been almost overwhelming, and it’s really helped to keep her spirits up.”
To make a donation of your own, head to www.IndieGoGo.com/WeLoveBrooke.