Brain-injury survivor to debut documentary on his ride to recovery this Saturday

There was a time, not so long ago, when they didn’t know whether Doug Markgraf would survive, let alone pedal a bicycle ever again.

That time started in May 2006, when the college sophomore and member of Drexel University’s cycling team was riding along Lancaster Avenue. There, he was struck by a quad-cab pick-up truck that was towing an ATV.

The driver of that truck sped off, never to be found, as the victim of that hit-and-run lay not far from a mangled bicycle. What followed was a coma which, upon emergence, became years of recovery from injuries up to, and including, brain-tissue tearing.

Recover, the East Falls man did, to the point that he spent the summer of 2011 pedaling from San Francisco, Cal. to Toms River, NJ.

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His mission wasn’t only to show what he could accomplish after suffering from that traumatic brain injury (TBI), though that certainly played a part. It was also a ride to promote TBI recovery awareness.

See gallery of Markgraf’s tour below

That phase of the mission ended in Aug. 2011. It picks back up Saturday, though, with a three-phased day of events.

It starts on Lemon Hill with the 4th-Annual Head Injury Ride for Recovery, which, in its motto, is described as “riding from Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park to Ambler really does ‘beat a coma.'”

Riders – helmets are required – can choose either the 18- or 30-mile route to the Ambler Theater (108 E. Butler Ave.), where the 2012 “Mend the Mind” Brain Injury Recovery & Revitalization Expo will take place.

Connecting survivors and spreading brain-injury awareness

The event is designed to bring “attendees, brain-injury rehabilitation specialists, researchers, psychologists, athletes, sports equipment suppliers, and brain injury associations [together to] enjoy the company of like-minded individuals who seek to promote brain injury recovery via active lifestyle choices and the most advanced rehabilitation and scientific methods.”

Then, at 1 p.m., Markgraf and film producer Scott Richardson will host the premiere of “This Beats A Coma,” a documentary about the incident, recovery, cross-country ride and TBI treatment activism.

The screening – admission is $5 with proceeds going to brain-injury care, advocacy and research – will be followed by a Q&A session.

A celebration of survival and recovery

“The ride is a celebration of my recovery from injury. On, or close to May 31, which is the date I was hit, I always make sure to do a ride,” Markgraf said Monday. “It’s to celebrate, with all these people, that I can safely ride again, and how awesome that is.”

Noting that it’s also awesome to stress the importance of wearing bicycle helmets and raise funds for head-injury prevention, care and support, Markgraf said the film delves into challenges he faced during his recovery. It will be sent to hospitals and support groups across the nation.

“There’s value in seeing a story of recovery like mine,” he said. “I want everyone to come and see this for the first time, and then tell other people to see it. It’s an opportunity for survivors to connect with others, to meet other people in the field, to see a widespread view of brain-injury care.”

For more information on Markgraf’s journey and outreach efforts, visit

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