CLEVELAND — On a snowboarding trip in 2011, Nick Ventura never made it down the hill.
He hit a tree and suffered a traumatic brain injury.
When he was discovered on the slope, he wasn’t breathing and his brain was swelling uncontrollably.
His chances of survival were slim, but six weeks later, Nick came out of the coma.
Through hard work and determination, he re-learned everything, from walking and talking to feeding himself.
But he didn’t stop there.
Nick and his family created 11 Foundation, which aims to help other brain injury survivors reach their full potential by offering resources, guidance and financial assistance.
Nick was born on November 11 and 11 is his favorite number.
“God gives us these struggles and it’s important that we realize that we’re not alone, and to keep plugging away and every day will bring something new,” said Brian Ventura, Nick’s dad and the founder and executive director of 11 Foundation.
“My struggles will continue for the rest of my life with memories and physical aspects,” Nick said, “but I just don’t look at those things much. I just kind of focus on living life.”
Nick is now a sophomore at St. Ignatius High School and also serves as a board member for 11 Foundation. He even has his driver license.
“For other families going through the same traumatic brain injury I went through, I just remind them to work hard and never give up,” Nick told others.
Someday Nick hopes to teach elementary school.
“Because I forgot everything, I was in those shoes twice,” he explained.
The Journey Back Gala presented by the 11 Foundation and Lago Restaurant will support brain injury survivors and their families.
It will be held March 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Aloft Hotel in Cleveland.
March is also brain injury awareness month.