INDIANAPOLIS — Central Indiana native Darcy Keith has inspired countless people on stages, in locker rooms and in schools and businesses across the country.
The award-winning national public speaker survived a car crash and traumatic brain injury when she was a student at Ball State University. Today, she uses her life experience in overcoming adversity to help others do the same.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty of what’s going to happen day to day,” Keith said. “And if I can help fill that gap, I want to do it.”
On a road trip with her sorority sisters when she was 22 years old, Keith’s life changed in an instant.
“I was the only backseat survivor in a fatal car crash to my sorority sisters next to me who died,” Keith said.
The accident left Keith in a coma with two traumatic brain injuries. She suffered paralysis to half of her body, a collapsed lung, a brain bleed and memory loss.
“Trying to recover from brain injury, it is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” Keith said.
When Keith woke up from the coma and began her recovery, she said it was not an easy road.
“There went everything I’ve learned, everything I work for is gone,” she said. “So when I went back to Ball State, I had to enroll in a new major because of the memory loss.”
Slowly, Keith started to heal.
“I let go of what I couldn’t control,” she said. “And seeing how I progressed every day allowed me to, okay, I can’t do that any longer. But this is what I can do.”
Over the years, Keith has used her experience to connect with others. She has worked for state auto insurance for over 25 years and has been a keynote speaker for seminars, conferences and colleges across the United States.
Additionally, Keith recently presented the “Traffic Education and Decision Making” module of the National Football League’s rookie success program for the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts.
“Here I am, a middle-aged white woman talking to young, very fit, athletic guys,” she said. “On what it’s like to have a traumatic brain injury, but also, more importantly, is how to make the decisions in life, how to be safe behind the wheel.”
Keith said she is living her best life. She added that after successfully overcoming the life-altering experiences life threw at her, she wants to help others learn to do the same.
“It’s a very big passion of mine because I have learned so much and I want to share that information because again,” she said. “I want others to experience living their best lives and becoming the best versions of themselves.”
Keith’s next stop is Washington DC, where she will be speaking on the advisory council for the Brain Injury Association of America.
“Just to be recognized for the hard work that I put in over the years is just wonderful because sometimes you don’t know the impact you might have on people,” Keith said.
Keith said that her successes have inspired her to try and inspire others.
“I try to encourage other people, you know, you can do it,” she said. “Just go back to the basics, put one foot in front of the other and, if you need help, I also talk about specifically asking for help.”