Heads Up: Concussion prompts student to create 10K run, 5K walk to raise awareness

Meredith Strickland, Staff Writer

She takes a deep breath, taking in the atmosphere around her.
Adrenaline courses through her body during sophomore basketball tryouts.
Waking up the next day, she doesn’t remember anything from the night before.
Everyone is telling her different stories about her accident.
The frustration of not knowing is building up inside of her.
Currently a senior, she is finally attending all of her classes everyday along with an online class to graduate.
Never understanding what truly happened in the events following her concussions will always be in the back of her head.
Senior Kylee Bliss has created an event called HeadsUp, a 10K trail run and 5K walk.
This walk will be at Shawnee Mission Park on Nov. 16 at 9 a.m. The run is on a combination of paved and mountain bike trails while the walk is only paved trails.
Bliss created this event to spread awareness of Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) and the serious effects of concussions.
Bliss has experienced multiple concussions in basketball and received both concussions within two months of each other. The first one occurred during her sophomore year and the second during a basketball game a few weeks later.
“I feel like a lot of people are uneducated about concussions and the dangers of not treating them properly, such as I was,” Bliss said. “If I can prevent even one other person from going through this, it makes it all worth the while.”
According to headsupkc.org, a concussion can simply be treated by resting and minimizing stress.
“The only reason I got the second one is because I lied about my recovery in order to play and came back before my brain had healed,” Bliss said.
Bliss said she could not remember what happened or the weeks that followed, relying on others to tell her what was going on.
“Most people think once you have gotten a concussion, your head hurts for a while and then it goes away, but there are many other struggles that can come with being hit in the head,” she said. “If [concussions] aren’t treated correctly, they can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.”
Bliss was an Honors and straight-A student, but after both concussions she needed an Individualized Education Program (IEP) along with help at school.
“I was just behind because of sophomore year after it happened,” she said. “I took two classes and a study hall. Last year I took four classes and a study hall.”
Bliss said concussions can not only affect a person’s education but also his or her social life.
“I can’t go to loud places or places with many people, which is pretty much any place my friends want to go,” Bliss said. “My head has hurt every day since it happened.”
Now, Bliss cannot play any contact sports.  Through vestibular therapy, Bliss decreased her amount of dizziness.
Bliss said she decided to create the
HeadsUp event to make others aware of PCS and to raise money for concussion education and research.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries occur each year in the United States. PCS is a disorder that includes dizziness and headaches for more than three months. For Bliss, the struggle has lasted for almost two years.
“Knowing what I know now, there is no way I would have made the same choices I did two years ago, but at the same time, I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Bliss said. “This experience has taught me so much about myself, and it has allowed me to help others not have to go through the same situation.”

To participate in the walk or find more information about HeadsUp, visit www.headsupkc.org.