Good morning. Governor Scott, Senator Flores, President Shalala, Dean Goldschmidt, distinguished guests — Thank you very much for coming to this ceremony and supporting concussion awareness. My name is David Goldstein, and I am a twelfth grader at Ransom Everglades High School. Over the past two and a half years, I have been on quite a journey. It started with a frightful collision on a soccer field, has consisted of many struggles and obstacles, and is culminating in a truly special event here today to celebrate Florida’s new concussion law. I stand here before you to share what I went through and the work that I have done.
I suffered three concussions playing soccer in a span of four years. My most recent concussion, which occurred in January, 2010, resulted in three and a half months of relentless pain. I was sensitive to light and sound, my balance was distorted, I was depressed, and my head hurt so badly that I had to sleep in the nurse’s office most days in order to get through school. Hopelessness engulfed me, for every doctor I visited told me that my torment could not be alleviated, that all I could do was wait and that I should never play soccer again.
After months of searching for help, my family found Dr. Gillian Hotz and Dr. Kester Nedd at University of Miami Sports Medicine Clinic. They applied their concussion treatment expertise to my injury, and turned my life around. After living through months of agony, I reached recovery thanks to Dr. Nedd and Dr. Hotz. I cannot thank them enough for helping me to be symptom-free and able to be myself again. I am incredibly excited to begin my senior year of soccer as Ransom Everglades’ team Captain next month.
Having fully recovered, I looked back on my experience and made a decision: I wanted to do everything possible to protect youth athletes from suffering the way I did. Since that decision, I have promoted concussion awareness. The first step was to spread the ImPact baseline concussion test to Miami-Dade’s high school sports teams. I am proud that Miami-Dade County is the first county in the United States to implement the test in all of its public high schools. I would like to thank Ransom Everglades for its support of my efforts to achieve county wide concussion care.
My efforts on the local scale led to my involvement in the effort to pass youth concussion legislation at the state level. Our first attempt to secure this legislation was unsuccessful, and I received a rude awakening to the reality of politics. However, Senator Flores spearheaded a second effort to pass this essential legislation, and our persistence paid off when the legislation passed unanimously in both houses of the Legislature in this year’s session. All the letters to the Senators and Representatives, the trips to Tallahassee to meet with key legislators and my appearances before the House and Senate Committees of reference had paid off.
Senator Flores and Representative Renuart deserve praise for the tireless work they put into passing this legislation and for their commitment to Florida’s youth athletes. I would also like to thank Nelson Diaz and Lindy Kennedy for their guidance and persistence that made success possible.
The efforts of our team already have transformed the way that Floridians think about concussions. Floridians now have a greater understanding of the serious dangers of concussions. The NFL has played a substantial role in the promotion of concussion education, for it has spread its initiative to protect athletes from concussions to the youth athletes of Florida and the rest of the country. The guidelines that the Florida High School Athletic Association has created under the umbrella of the legislation will guide coaches, trainers, referees, and others in the rules for removal from play and return to play. The result of all of this progress is that I have realized a major step towards my goal – there is a reduced danger that Florida’s youth athletes will suffer what I suffered from my concussions.
I would also like to mention the research being done at the KiDZ Neuroscience Center at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. This research strives to shed further light on the consequences of impacts to the head on the brain. I truly appreciate the interest that Marc Buoniconti has taken in my work and the serious issue of concussions.
I will now direct my conclusion towards Governor Scott. Governor, your support of this bill has been immensely appreciated. It means a lot not just because it demonstrates your concern for the well-being of the youth athletes of our state, but also because you are here today during a time when so many issues are fighting for your attention. Thank you once again for your commitment to spreading concussion awareness, and thank you, to all who are here today, for sharing this special day with me.