By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
SEATTLE – After experiencing the difficulty of accessing rehabilitation services, a two-time traumatic brain injury survivor founded a nonprofit driven to funding life-changing experiences for people living with neurological disorders.
The Plus One Foundation serves children and adults with one of 500 neurological disorders or diseases through funding activities and experiences offering education, rehabilitation, and training for the individual.
“We help provide them with care and therapy that their doctors say, ‘this is a really good idea for you to do’ but they don’t have the means to do it,” explained the foundation’s Founder Kacey Kroeger. ‘Nobody should be sitting at home getting worse every day because they don’t have the resources.”
Plus One customs an individual’s access to services dependent on their recovery and rehabilitation needs. The nonprofit provides grants for activities including art and music therapy, therapeutic horseback riding, integrated movement therapy, martial arts, meditation, yoga and aquatic therapies.
“We had a young girl who hadn’t developed her language skills and the children’s hospital recommended music therapy,” said Kroeger. “We sent a music therapist to her house, and she’s since developed her own language with her parents.”
Coronavirus-induced restrictions have proved challenging for Plus One’s efforts to pave the way to services for their clients, as most workshops, classes and activities have been temporarily paused to adhere to safety and social distancing mandates.
“This care is essential to people, this is a difference between them being able to walk, being able to talk and function,” said Kroeger. “I don’t want people going backward because of this…so we’ve had to be creative to find ways to help people under the guidelines.”
Following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Plus One has recently launched two new programs into their service found to be essential to the lives of their clients.
Inspired by food bank distribution services, Kroeger and her friend Paula created the Fulfillment Care Package Program- a subscription box of nonperishable food delivered to those in need who are unable to leave their residences.
Additionally, the newly integrated Plus One Pals Program, inspired by the challenges of self-isolation and social distancing, connects volunteers with individuals residing in senior living facilities through letters delivered on an on-going basis.
“I just don’t want anybody suffering and getting worse. I want people to have care, but that access is challenging during COVID,” explained Kroeger. “I’ve had so much trauma in the past 18 years, but no matter what I try to work on my foundation every day because I just care so much.”
In the past two decades Kroeger has suffered two traumatic brain injuries (TBI), challenging her to relearn how to talk and walk; twice. Lacking full access to the care she needed during her first injury in 2001, due to not having health insurance at the time, drove the idea for the Plus One Foundation.
Throughout the recovery of her second TBI, Kroeger’s desire to establish the foundation was increasingly potent. Intending to begin the process once recovered, she had an overwhelming urge to start it immediately one night, seeking the support of her friend and fellow founder Alex Strazzanti.
“I had on a rib brace, a neck brace, a pirate patch over my eye and I had to sleep standing up. It just came to me one night,” explained Kroeger. “I went and met with my friend Alex, I said ‘I have no money and I want to start this foundation to help people’, and he was like ‘alright let’s do it.’.”
Working through the logistics while in recovery was challenging, says Kroeger, but eventually Strazzanti and her were able to establish a board of directors and launch the organization.
“I called it Plus One because I believe every single time you do one nice thing for one person, you have no idea how many more people you are going to help,” said Kroeger. “Just because you can’t save the whole world… you can still try to help one person.”
To learn more about the Plus One Foundation, visit https://www.plusonefoundation.org/.