ULSTER – The community of Ulster County has kicked off a major fundraising effort to assist Hannah Berryan, a young Ulster County woman. Hannah was just sixteen years old when she was severely injured by a texting driver while walking on Morton Boulevard in the Town of Ulster on July 12, 2014. It has been an arduous seven years and, Berryan, now a 23-year-old country music fan and farm animal lover needs to make the next step in her recovery.
Thankfully, Fire Chief Shawn Heppner from Ulster Hose # 5 was several cars behind when the crash happened, enabling instant emergency response and Hannah’s life was saved.
Unfortunately, Hannah suffered a traumatic brain injury but did not receive substantial financial support from insurance. Financial hardships have continued to impact her recovery. Funds will go toward the traumatic brain injury services she needs.
Over the years, Hannah’s family has received assistance from the community. The congregation at St. John’s Roman Catholic Church has provided food, medical support, and financial assistance essential for the family’s survival. Other community members have lent their help as well including the Oakes family who provided a storage unit for the family, the Table at Woodstock who provided meals and groceries, and many others who provided fresh groceries and supplies.
Hannah and her mom Katherine live in Shokan where they were able to obtain affordable housing in a one-room summer cottage. Traumatic brain injury services are not easy to access while living in Shokan making the family re-evaluate their residency. After working with Senator Michelle Hinchey’s Office and local attorney March Gallagher (also the Ulster County Comptroller), Hannah’s family has decided to move to Long Island where there are brain injury experts who can help her further her recovery.
“The Hudson Valley is a healthcare desert when it comes to services for survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), making it impossible for patients like Hannah to receive the specialized, long-term care they need. My Constituent Services team is dedicated to assisting residents in any way we can, and we were proud to collaborate with attorney March Gallagher to help Hannah and her family navigate this issue,” said Senator Michelle Hinchey.
“We are heartened by the generosity of this community-led fundraising effort to support the Berryan’s as they find a path forward on Long Island. While it is nothing short of a tragedy to see a local family forced to leave the Hudson Valley due to the severe lack of health services available in our area, this move will allow Hannah to access the care she needs and have the best quality of life possible. This is a reality that too many upstate families face, and one that we must take action to change, which is why my office will continue to pursue legislative options to close the TBI care gap in the Hudson Valley and across New York State.”
“Although I serve as the County Comptroller, as an attorney I took Hannah’s case pro bono when I realized just how limited the supports were for this family,” said March Gallagher.
“While working to get Hannah a seizure dog and behavioral therapy it became clear that moving closer to brain injury experts could expedite Hannah’s recovery.”
Now, community members Daisy Kramer Bolle, Erin Cadigan, March Gallagher, and Peter Humphries have launched a fundraising effort to assist the family in their move to Long Island.
Their goal is to raise enough to cover the first month’s rent and security, beds and other furnishings, the cost of the move, transportation needs for Hannah’s appointments until her benefits are transferred over, and a financial emergency cushion. With the support of their community, Hannah and Katherine Berryan will be moving to a 16-acre horse farm in Middle Island, Long Island. Hannah will be working with experts at SUNY Stony Brook and multiple brain injury advocacy organizations while pursuing her passion for horses.