In 1963 a man named Alan Breslau was severely burned in a commercial airliner crash, and in 1977 he founded the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors with a vision of ensuring that every burn survivor, their loved ones, and caregivers have the necessary support on their road to recovery. Today the Phoenix Society is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is the largest organization of its kind with a core belief of offering support from someone who has truly “been there” and can provide the hope needed for recovery of mind, body and spirit.
As a burn survivor myself, I started volunteering at Regions Hospital Burn Center in St. Paul, MN just months after my release from the hospital in 1995. My first act of volunteering came quite unexpectedly…as I was cleared to return to work and on my way to the office, when I heard the breaking news that a 19 year old male was severely burning in an aviation accident and taken to Regions Hospital. I turned my vehicle around and drove straight to the hospital without any thought. It was as if my body took control. When I arrived, I found a distraught mother, father and twin sister in the waiting room.
The hours I spend talking to them about my own experience and the care I was given gave them hope. They were afraid and rightfully so, however, being able to see me stand before them, show them my scars, and my determination to move forward with my life bonded us forever.
The Phoenix Society later implemented the Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR) program in 2001, for which I was promptly trained. I was later asked to serve on the National Board of Trustees and today hold the position of Vice President of the Board. It has also been my privilege to promote the efforts of the Phoenix Society through speaking engagements with the World Burn Congress, American Burn Association and various Community Organizations both domestic and abroad.
Giving the keynote address at the World Burn Congress in Cincinnati, Ohio in September of 2011.
More than a million burns occur each year in the United States. Burns do not discriminate and can happen to anyone at any time. Unfortunately, many burns are preventable and it is also a mission of the Phoenix Society to advocate for prevention whenever possible.
As I shared with the fabulous Mrs. International Pageant Class of 2012 and their loved ones, I sincerely hope anyone reading this blog who knows a burn victim or may find themselves suffering from a severe burn injury will not hesitate to reach out to the Phoenix Society www.phoenix-society.org or contact me directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
With love and gratitude,
Mrs. International 2012