Brain injury survivor brings powerful message to students

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A Valley woman who nearly lost her life is taking her powerful message to college classrooms.

Friday will mark one year since 23-year-old Nichola Drake suffered a brain injury after falling off a moving car in Mexico.

"Yeah, I'm not going to fall. I'm going to snap chat this, in fact," says Drake. "Then in a split second, I'm face down in a pile of sand, unconscious."

Drake says the vacation quickly turned into a fight for her life. She doesn't remember much about the hospital stays that followed, but she says she was informed at discharge that she faced a long road to recovery.

"I knew I wasn't obviously where I wanted to be at all, but I knew I could get there," says Drake. "I couldn't pick up things, my speech which you can kind of hear, has a slight speech impediment. But early on I couldn't talk; they weren't even words. My cognition was so terrible I couldn't tell a story."

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. On Thursday, Drake brought her remarkable story of recovery to a class at Grand Canyon University.  She's participated in similar question-and-answer forums to let young adults know they are not invincible.   

"I just want to keep living because I almost didn't," says Drake. "It's very rare you get a second chance at life."

Drake hasn't let the brain injury hold her back. She's back at work where she's a server at a restaurant, she can do all the things she wants to do, and she has a new outlook on life.

"I'm alive, but I wasn't living," says Drake. "Now I feel like I'm fully living because now I know what it means." 

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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