Lee Woodruff shares experiences of healing
Updated 3:02 pm, Wednesday, June 1, 2011
For the Woodruff family, moving forward has often meant looking back.
"It takes a lot to tell one's story, particularly to tell the crux of that story five years later," said Lee Woodruff, 51, referring to the near fatal injuries her husband, ABC News journalist Bob Woodruff, received after a roadside bomb went off during an assignment in Iraq in 2006.
In 2007, the couple released the book "In An Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing." It told the story of the attack, Woodruff's grueling recovery from a traumatic brain injury, the hard work of his medical team and the way the family coalesced around a new way of life. An important message of the book was that a family could once again thrive after such a life-altering moment.
Since the publication of the book, and Lee Woodruff's second book, "Perfectly Imperfect," in 2009, she has traveled around the country to share lessons she learned that helped her remain resilient despite some very dark days.
"They make it worth it," she said of the many people who have told her the stories and revelations she has shared in her books and at the podium have been a comfort, in crises large and small.
That she also has been able to provide guidance is as much a gift for herself as it is for others.
More InformationThe Country Club of Darien is at 300 Mansfield Ave., Darien. The Center for Hope annual luncheon will be at 11 a.m., June 6. Tickets are $125. For more information, visit www.familycenters.org, e-mail email@example.com or call 203-869-4848.
"It does make me feel better," said Woodruff, who lives in Westchester County, N.Y., with her husband and four children.
She said her family has moved beyond the day-to-day existence that marked those earlier times as her husband fought to recovery. The family has learned to cope with whatever changes have come their way, she added.
This kind of message makes her appearance at the Center for Hope's annual luncheon on June 6 particularly apt, said Bob Arnold, president of Family Centers, a nonprofit organization that provides social services to people in lower Fairfield County. The Center for Hope is just one of the organization's programs.
"The Center for Hope serves people who have experienced a life-alerting experience, and that, of course, is what Lee Woodruff and her family felt themselves confronted with," Arnold said.
Woodruff is to speak at 11 a.m. at the Country Club of Darien. Arnold said he heard Woodruff speak at a previous engagement and "was quite taken with her story and her journey."
"I also was taken by the way she comports herself and the commitment she has made, beyond caring for her family."
Woodruff and her husband launched the Bob Woodruff Foundation in 2008. This nonprofit group provides resources and support, including medical care and counseling, to injured U.S. service members (particularly those suffering traumatic brain injury and combat stress), veterans and their families. The foundation has raised more than $8.5 million toward its mission, according to its website (remind.org).
Proceeds from the Center for Hope luncheon will support bereavement programs at the center, as well as those at the Den for Grieving Kids, which provides free services to young people and their families. Funds also will help support services for those suffering an illness or coping with trauma.
Last year's luncheon, which featured author Anna Quindlen, raised more than $100,000 toward those services. A simlar amount was raised at the first luncheon, at which the late Elizabeth Edwards spoke.
The funds raised enable Family Centers to ensure that no one is turned away from services for lack of financial ability, Arnold said.
Woodruff said that during her husband's recovery she often thought of others going through a similar situation, but who did not have the medical resources or counseling services her family could access. She cited it as the reason she makes an effort to talk at events such as the luncheon.
"We felt so blessed," she said. "I was one of those extremely lucky people who had fabulous family and fabulous friends. But, I often thought, and still do, of all the people who aren't lucky enough to have that."
Staff Writer Christina Hennessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-964-2241.