Spotlight on Catherine Brubaker, Class of 2007
By Paige Gruner
Office of Alumni Relations
GCU Today Magazine
Catherine Brubaker is a two-time traumatic brain-injury survivor who has taken life by the handlebars.
In 2010, Brubaker was assaulted, leaving her with a brain injury that also affected her heart, necessitating a pacemaker. Upon being discharged from the hospital, she was involved in a head-on collision and sustained a second injury to her brain.
Three years after her accident, Brubaker was determined to take her life back. She purchased a recumbent tricycle and met Dan Zimmerman, a stroke survivor who was riding the same model. They realized they were riding for the same purpose — freedom.
Zimmerman gave Brubaker his card, and on the back was a U.S. map with a red line from Anacortes, Wash., to Key West, Fla. Zimmerman was doing a cross-country bike ride to raise hope and awareness about cycling’s ability to help brain-injury survivors recover and regain their strength.
Brubaker, of Tempe, Ariz., later called Zimmerman. She said, “I’m in. I want to do this ride.” She had six weeks to train and raise $10,000, which she accomplished with Zimmerman’s help and that of the community.
Along with four other cyclists, Brubaker completed the five-month, 5,390-mile ride, “Spokes Fighting Strokes,” on Nov. 29, 2014. “That ride changed my life,” said the GCU alumna, who has a master’s degree in leadership.
The journey inspired Brubaker, 44, in many ways. She started a nonprofit, Hope for Trauma, to raise hope for brain-injury survivors. Her goal is to purchase recumbent tricycles for survivors and teach them to ride safely.
To donate to or learn more about Brubaker’s organization, visit hopefortrauma.org or connect with her at Facebook.com/irideforhope.