North Central resident Kathy Laurinaitis has been named the first winner of the Woman of Courage award by the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona. Laurinaitis will receive the honor at the Alliance’s inaugural “Brainiac Bash…a Soiree to Support Brain Health” on Jan. 14.

Laurinaitis underwent extensive surgery to remove a mass on her brain stem after a misdiagnosis of Bell’s palsy. Laurinaitis and her family members faced a frightening situation last year as Laurinaitis endured months of neurological challenges and brain health problems without a clear diagnosis and plan to move forward. At the time, her twin daughters, Nicole Garcia-Colace and Brianna Danielson, stars of the E! reality series “Total Bellas” and former WWE wrestlers, were just weeks away from giving birth.

Laurinaitis decided to share her health issues publicly on TV, where she has been “open about her cognitive challenges and the immense hard work of recovery,” said Carrie Collins-Fadell, director of the non-profit Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona. Laurinaitis, a busy grandmother who owns JBN & Associates, an executive search firm, said she was honored to be selected for the Woman of Courage award. She said she wants to do what she can to help other families deal with their trauma.

According to the Alliance, this year thousands of Arizona residents will be treated in an emergency room for a brain injury. More than 5.3 million people in the country are living with a permanent brain injury-related disability, but brain injury is still misunderstood, misdiagnosed and rarely discussed. The Alliance aims to help improve the lives of adults and children with all types of brain injury through awareness, prevention, advocacy and education. It houses the Brain Health Resource Center, which is a collection of educational information and vetted resources.

The “Brainiac Bash…a Soiree to Support Brain Health” will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14, at The Chateau Luxe, 1175 E. Lone Cactus Drive. There will be competitive dancers and local celebrities performing ballroom dance routines that will be judged by a panel that includes “Dancing with the Stars’” Tony Dovolani.

To learn more about the event, visit



Hello, North Central neighbor — thank you for visiting!

Sign up to receive our digital issue in your inbox each month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.