The American public in the past month has learned a lot about traumatic brain injury from press coverage of the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. And they got more insight into the heartbreak of TBI this week from, of all unlikely places, “American Idol.”
In Milwaukee, “Idol” contestant Chris Medina drew tears, and made headlines, because of his unshaken love for his fiancee Juliana Ramos. The audience was shown photos of Medina proposing to Juliana, a stunningly beautiful young woman with huge brown eyes. He popped the question in the Starbucks where she worked.
But Medina told “Idol” judges Jennifer Lopez, Steve Tyler and Randy Jackson that two months before his wedding date, Juliana was in a car accident. She sustained serious brain damage, and was in a coma for a month and a half.
“Everything changed,” Medina said, a phrase that many a TBI survivor, or their family, has said.
Medina has not abandoned his fiancee, who is wheelchair bound now.
“I was about to make vows just two months from the accident — through thick and thin, ’til death do us part, for better or worse,” Medina said. “What kid of guy would I be if I walked out when she needed me the most?”
For his audition Medina covered The Script’s hit “Breakeven,” and made it to the next round of the “Idol” competition in Hollywood.
Juliana was waiting outside the room when Medina was auditioning, and the judges asked to meet her. She is partially paralyzed, and looks like a shadow of the person in the photographs before her accident. But the “Idol” judges warmly greeted her, with Tyler giving her a hug.
“I just heard your fiance sing,” Tyler told her. “He sings to you all the time. I could tell. That’s why he sings so good, because he sings to you.”
When Medina and Juliana left the audition room, she whispered something into his ear. Medina turned and said to the camera, “She said, ‘I knew it.’”
Some “Idol” fans and TV blogs are complaining that the show was exploiting Juliana by putting her on the air. But she is the face of TBI, and America should see it. Juliana should be “The American Idol.”
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
email@example.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.