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First Coast Connect: Best Selling Author To Be Keynote Speaker at Caregiver Expo

The Caregiver Coalition of North East Florida will be hosting its annual Caregiver Expo on May 7, at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.

Lee Woodruff, who spoke about her personal experiences as a caregiver on WJCT's First Coast Connect, will be the keynote speaker at the Caregiver Expo. 

“As so many people know, you get a phone call or a diagnosis or something out of the blue, and life changes and you simply have to respond,” said Woodruff, a New York Times best selling author.

Woodruff, a journalist, mother of four, and wife to Bob Woodruff, knows firsthand how life can change in an instant. Her husband was appointed co-anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight, shortly before an accident transformed their lives.

In 2007, while her husband was on an assignment in Taji, Iraq, a bomb exploded near his vehicle causing him to suffer a major brain injury. In the blink of an eye, their seemingly picture perfect life was turned upside down.

Still juggling the roles of motherhood and her career, Woodruff became the sole caregiver for her husband while still excelling in other aspects of her life.

“I had never imagined being a caregiver at that stage in my life,” said Woodruff in an interview on First Coast Connect. “… You just do it. You don’t really have a choice, so you put it together as best you can.”

Woodruff believes the support of her family, friends and community played a huge role in their success during this troubling time.

As the keynote speaker for the Caregiver Expo 2016, Woodruff will encourage caregivers across Northeast Florida and bring them a feeling of optimism and support.

Caregivers tend to be the unsung heroes when a drastic accident occurs within a family. Woodruff believes the added pressure of caring for a loved one, combined with keeping up with the daily routine of a household, can be too much for one person to handle.

Since 2008, the Caregiver Coalition of Northeast Florida has offered resources and assistance for family caregivers. According to a study conducted by AARP, the value of care provided by family members as caregivers in the US exceeds $480 billion, and is increasing.

Woodruff believes that we are not set up as a nation to take care of people long term, which is why alliances such as the Caregiver Coalition and community support, is imperative in a caregiver’s life.

“There’s so much that we’re learning and thinking about as caregivers, and the realization of how we care for caregivers becomes part of life, as it needs to, that has long been something that’s lived in the shadows,” she said.