After a burn injury, the burn survivors life and their family members lives change forever. The road to recovery for all
involved can be very long, hard and painful. With the help of family members, burn unit staff, rehabilitation specialists,
BSTTW and the burn survivor community a burn survivor and family members can recover and reach
goals that will give the burn survivor a new and happy life.
Burn Survivors Throughout The World, Inc. (BSTTW) was started by me, Michael Appleman
during my recovery from a burn injury. In May 1998, I was burned due to a cigarette fire in a car. I
use to be a cigarette smoker. One night I stopped to take a nap in the car and I needed my usual cigarette before I went to sleep. The
cigarette appeared to be out. I put it in the ash tray without any thoughts of a fire, and went to sleep. A short time later, I woke up
to a major car fire. The fire was spreading around the car and my legs were in flames. I left the car and then reentered it in order to
get a bottle of water that I had between the seats. My face, neck and hand was burned from the heat and flames as I reentered the car. My
legs were badly burned. I was able to put the fire out on my legs, but the heat spread to my feet, knees and thighs. I suffered 1st, 2nd,
3rd and 4th degree burns.
BSTTW CD Cover
I was still able to walk at that time. I walked away from the car and sat on the ground. I looked up at the sky and
I prayed to God and thanked him for allowing me to get out of the fire. As I prayed the fire inside the car, got out of control, and the
car windows exploded. Again I thanked God. I asked God what he wanted from me since I was badly burned. The only answer I received at that
time, was a man driving into the parking lot and coming to my rescue. He told me that saw the fire, went to the local restaurant, called
911 and then came to the parking lot to help me. I thanked him for coming. He and another man helped me get up and walk over to his truck.
The fire fighters and paramedics arrived. By that time I was feeling very ill. The fire, heat and chemicals spread around my body. My feet
had 2nd degree burns and the shoes were not burned. That is the cause of the heat that spread around the body. I could not stand or walk.
The paramedics did what they could and took me to the hospital.
Like many burn survivors, I went through a rough recovery. I was in and out of the hospital. I lived in nursing homes
for 8 months. Two of my ankle bones were badly burned. Both of my legs were badly burned and my right knee was in 30% contracture. I had
plastic surgery, suffered from emotional issues, strokes and heart attacks. I was wheelchair bound and needed someone to help me transfer
in and out of the bed, seat and/or wheelchair. Due to the fire, heart attacks and strokes, I was not able to push myself around. I felt that
my life was a mess. Emotionally I suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. I had to learn how to get myself
into the wheelchair and to put my clothes on. This was not what I thought my life was going to be like.
BSTTW Back Label: Ariel's Hands
My recovery, like so many other burn survivors, took a long time and was not easy. There was so much that I had to
learn, work on and work through. For eight months, I needed help to get into the shower, get dressed, go to the dining room, get in and
out of the wheelchair, to get around with the wheelchair, or get outside to smoke a cigarette. I reached out to God in order to find the
strength needed to continue this fight and rough road to recovery. During my recovery Marty, a friend, gave me her father's special graduation
cross. Marty's Dad was a Catholic Father. I put the cross on my chest and did not take it off. The day before I went back to the hospital
for plastic surgery, Marty's Mother asked me to give her the cross back. She then gave me the external cross that her husband would wear
when he lead the Mass at church. Both gave me the strength and positive belief during each and every day when even when I was down and
out. I always kept the external cross attached to my bed in both the hospital and nursing home. At one point I put it on the wall. I informed
all the patients that they can come into my room and pray to God any time they wanted to. Most of the nurses told me that someone was going
to steal the cross from me and I should put it away. I told them that it was God's and no one will take it way. Today I have that cross
on the wall in my bedroom.
After 8 months of being in hospitals and nursing homes, I decided to leave the nursing home and return to the people
that can help me. I was not getting the rehabilitation needed to push the wheelchair and hopefully walk again. I contacted Marty and asked
her to please come and take me to her home. The doctor did not want to release me so I signed all the papers and was allowed to leave. Marty
and I went to Church of the Holy Spirit and took part in the healing weekend. After the healing weekend was over, the church staff told me
to stay at the healing hotel the church owned and we will work together to find me a place to live. The church made several telephone calls.
Within 24 hours after I started staying at the church, I was given an electric wheelchair. The electric wheelchair gave me the freedom I lost since the burn injury.
I was able to drive my self around without the help of others. I learned how to transfer from the wheelchair to my bed, toilet, shower
and any other place I needed to sit. My life was starting to change. The first night that I had the electric wheelchair, I drove to
the outside of the church. I looked at the cross and prayed to God. I thanked God for all the changes in my life and I know that God
would show me the way to a happier and healthier life. A short time later the church found an apartment that was available. They talked to the manager and she stated I should
come over for an interview. The interview went well, the apartment looked nice and was disabled ready. I signed the lease and had my
own home. Soon I would be living on my own and taking another step towards recovery. It was a very beautiful feeling to have your life moving
forward after a burn injury. Three days after I moved in, I was in the wheelchair waiting to go across the street. A car hit another
car twice and the car came up the sidewalk and hit me. I woke up with many people around me. One of the women reached over to the
wheelchair, took my bag and rosary and gave them to me. I help the rosary to my chest and relaxed. From that point on my recovery was
Within one week, after moving into my own apartment, I found several doctors and rehabilitation specialists that
were very interested in helping me recover from the burn injury and car accident. I began going to rehabilitation 3 times a week. Slowly
I was able to do more. My left side, that was not working well due to the strokes, began to return. I was living on my own and even cooking
my own meals.
During the summer of 1999, I was lucky enough to attend the World Burn Congress for the first time. That was such
a very special time in my life. I finally met other burn survivors. Some recovered and some were still in recovery. There was a very special
individual that I met during that WBC. He was a male burn survivor who had 3rd and 4th degree burns. Since I was still unable to use my
left side at the time, he came over to me and asked if I needed any help getting my breakfast. I thanked him and said yes I could use your
help. He helped me get all the food I wanted and then brought it to the table for me. I looked at his hands and saw that he lost most of
his fingers in the fire. Seeing how far he has come gave me extra strength to move forward.
I returned home from the WBC and made many telephone calls in order to get the help I needed to recover from the burn
injury. I knew if he was able to reach his goals and recover, I and so many others burn survivors could do the same. I knew that I was still
missing something in my life. I wanted to walk again or at least have a chance to try. I prayed to God and asked for help. I told God that
if I was given the chance to walk again and I was not able to walk, I would accept that and I would accept being in a wheelchair for life. I also asked God to
show me what I was to do with my new life. Months later, I was given special leg braces and a walker. After 5 months of therapy I
took my first steps. At that point I was given a computer and went on the internet. I researched a lot and then decided to start an
internet support group for burn survivors. Using my Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology, I started helping others in need. In
2001, I attended the WBC for the third time and was able to walk short distances. I spoke to many individuals and companies at the
WBC 2001. I was able to get the help from other burn survivors and family members, in order to get BSTTW
incorporated and have a board of directors in order to be given the 501 (c)(3) Non Profit Organization status.
With a lot of hard work by me and many others, BSTTW has grown to become one of the top internet
sites and an organization that is currently working in 12 different countries around the world.
During 2001, I met Lita Duckworth a burn survivor on the BSTTW internet site.
Lita was going through rough times and need support. She reached out to BSTTW and we offered her the
help needed. We spoke many times by telephone, emails and the BSTTW chat. She learned how to
dust herself off after becoming a burn survivor. Lita worked at dealing with the awful changes that would not go away. She wrote several
articles and a poem. The poem was a way for Lita to express the pain and suffering she and so many other burn survivors go through after the
burn injury and the help BSTTW offers to the burn survivor community. BSTTW
put the poem on the internet for all to see. That poem has been read by hundreds of people world wide.
Over a year ago I began to communicate by email with Ariel Gonzalez. Ariel is a burn survivor, guitar player and
founder of Espacio Cuattro. He lives in Saltillo, Coahuila Mexico. Before Ariel was burned he was a member of a local musical band. Then
without any warning, Ariel suffered severe burns to his in the hand, arm, chest and face in a home fire. At the time of the accident, Ariel
was Catholic, married, had three children and a loving family. He enjoyed writing songs and playing the guitar for a well known band in
Mexico. Ariel suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his hands, arms, face and chest. After the fire Ariel did not want to give up hope that
he will write music, be in a band and continue playing the lead guitar. Playing the guitar again was not an easy goal to reach. Ariel suffered
third degree burns, nerve damage to his left and right arm and hands. He had several surgeries to those areas and wore Jobst Hose for an
extended period of time.
The emotional and physical pain that Ariel suffered due to the burn injury was not easy to deal with. Ariel, like
many other burn survivors, continually reach out to the most important individual in his life...God. He prays daily asking God to allow
him to recover and live a happy and normal life. In time, with his family and friends by his side and after many surgeries and extensive
rehabilitation, Ariel was able to reach his goals. Every time Ariel spoke to the band members or looked at his guitar, he reached deeper
inside to find what was needed to rebuild his life. Part of Ariel's rehabilitation was to exercise the hands by playing the cords on his
guitar. After a lot of hard work, Ariel was able to restart his musical work. He rejoined the band and began to show all that the burn did
not end his life. Today each and every time Ariel plays the guitar he still suffers a lot of pain in his hands. Both hands still have staples
inside of them. That pain and suffering did not stop Ariel from moving forward with his life.
Six months ago, after being in contact with Ariel for over one year, I decided to email Ariel and find out if he and his band would be interested in writing the music and recording songs for several BSTTW poems. Ariel read the poems and said that he would like to take part in writing the music and recording the songs. Ariel stated that his band and other musicians in Mexico would like to take part in writing the music and recording the song. The musicians knew that Ariel was a burn survivor and that the song
would be the music used by BSTTW on the internet, in conferences, radio stations and public events. Ariel and the musicians let me know that they would like to record the song in both English and Spanish. I thought that would was a fantastic idea. After working
on the song for several months the musicians got together and recorded the song. They were very happy with the results.
On Thursday October 30, 2003 the CD arrived at the BSTTW office. It was a fantastic feeling to open up the CD and listen to the music. Ariel and his band did a fantastic job. The love was flowing from the musicians and singers. You can feel that each
individual involved in the making of the song and the CD, took a very special part in helping Ariel, BSTTW and the burn survivor community. BSTTW world like to thank Ariel, his band, the recording company and all others involved for all the work they did. Ariel
Gonzalez is an example of a burn survivor that did not allow the burn injury to stop him from reaching his goals and doing the best he can
after the accident.
Ariel like so many other burn survivors, learned a lot about life due to the burn injury. He found more strength in
God, love for life and the ability to never give up when the chips are down. Today Ariel is the BSTTW Representative
in Mexico and has started to speak with doctors and nurses in the burn unit about the work he and
BSTTW offers to the burn survivor community and the public. Ariel has also spoken with burn survivors and family members
explaining his injury, God's love and strength and his road to recovery. Ariel has helped many burn survivors and the public to understand
that a burn injury does not end your life. Ariel is currently opening up doors for our current and future burn survivors in Mexico, the
USA and other parts of the world.
Pati & Doug McLean
The BSTTW Board of Directors, Ariel and his team felt that the song would help other
burn survivors, by speaking the love for life, expressing the changes due to a burn injury, opening up doors for BSTTW
, and helping the public to become more aware of what a burn injury can do to a human being from the day of the accident and their
future. I personally felt that I was again reaching another goal for BSTTW and in my life. Again I was
opening up many more possibilities for BSTTW . The words from this song can touch the hearts of many.
It may also help our current and future burn survivors and family members to understand that life has changed, but it is not over. They
will see that two burn survivors had an important part in the song. During the practice and recording sessions for the BSTTW
songs, Ariel reached deep inside and found the strength he needed to make the BSTTW songs the
best they can be. Ariel is a burn survivor who we all can learn from. Ariel Gonzalez never gave up during his recovery and reached goals
that many individuals in the burn survivor community and the public thought could never be accomplished.
If you do not see the BSTTW Music Window, that means
you have an issue with your computer. If you have a pop up blocker program you may want to allow the pop up to appear on this site. We do
not advertise. If you see the BSTTW music window and you cannot get that to play you will have to see if your internet explorer, windows
music player, AOL or other internet music program is installed. If not then you will have to download what is needed in order to hear the
songs. The BSTTW Music Window offers you the availability to hear all four BSTTW
BSTTW is producing and releasing this fantastic CD to the public. The CD is called
Burn Survivors Throughout The World. If you are interested in getting a copy of the CD
BSTTW you can donate $25.00 to BSTTW and receive a copy of the CD.
To learn more go to Receive BSTTW Music CD. By donating
to BSTTW you will be helping us receive the funds needed to continue our work rebuilding lives, educating
the public on fire safety and helping a burn survivor reenter their community, you will get to own and listen to the BSTTW
Music CD, and finally your donation and receipt of the BSTTW Music CD will show your support and
love to Ariel Gonzalez, and Lita Duckworth, two burn survivors who are responsible for the making of the music and recording of the
BSTTW Music CD.
Click the link in order to see all the pictures from the two recording studios in Mexico and Texas, USA.
Below are pictures of the band that recorded the English and Spanish version of the BSTTW
Songs. The song was inspired by a poem written by Lita Duckworth and are musically written by Ariel Gonzalez. The vocalist is Pati
McLean. The lead guitarist is BSTTW's Ariel Gonzalez. The bass guitar and keyboard is played by Omar
Sánchez, the drums are played by Benjamín Figueroa, the soprano saxophone is played by Héctor Vazquez, and the percussions are played by
Diego Trejo. Pati McLean adapted the song to Spanish.
BURN SURVIVORS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
Song inspired by Lita Duckworth's poem
Music By: Ariel Gonzalez
Adaptation Pati McLean
We felt the flame throughout the world
So many of us became burn survivors
Some could not take the winds that day
The burn survivors are here to stay
We are here to stay
It was so dark from the start
I really thought I lost my heart
As I started to beat
I then realized I hadn´t lost my seat
In life my seat in life
Life moves so fast we realize
This show will last, survivors fight from day to day