Rock Circus at The Forge in Joliet to benefit Concussion Legacy Foundation

The organizer has post-concussion syndrome

Ashley Bodhaine, center, poses with Clare Andrejek and Joe Rosing at The Forge in downtown Joliet where she will be hosting a fundraiser for The Concussion Legacy Foundation on April 27th.

A live music venue in Joliet was the site of choice for a woman with post-concussion syndrome to host a fundraiser for a concussion-related nonprofit.

Ashley Bodhaine, 36, is organizing the Rock Circus featuring Hairbangers Ball on April 27 at The Forge in Joliet to raise awareness about concussions and to raise money for the Concussion Legacy Foundation. The former Shorewood resident, who now lives in Ottawa, is a single mom to an 11-year-old daughter.

The Concussion Legacy Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports research for concussion and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disorder in people with repeated head trauma, according to the foundation’s website.

Bodhaine herself has post-concussion syndrome from a car crash in 2019.

“The original name was going to be Dark Circus because I used to be in a very dark place with this,” Bodhaine said. “But I changed it to Rock Circus because I loved rock music and did events before my accident. It’s like a little girl’s dream come true.”

Features of the Rock Circus include music by the 1980s rock tribute band Hairbangers Ball, circus acts, a barbecue menu, speakers and firsthand accounts of concussions.

Bodhaine’s business consulting company, AB Impressions, is sponsoring the event along with Prime Bath and Home Solutions of Illinois and D’Arcy Motors in Joliet and Morris. The Forge is donating the venue for the event.

Roy Wickiser, who works at The Forge, said the venue does several charitable events a year. He said he has known Bodhaine for about 16 years and understands the value of her event, as he’s had two concussions.

“I’m just trying to be a good dude,” Wickiser said.

Ken Smith, owner of Prime Bath and Home Solutions of Illinois in Coal City, where Bodhaine has worked in human resources for the past year, also is enthusiastically assisting Bodhaine’s fundraising efforts.

“She’s an amazing human being,” Smith said.

Smith said that when he learned about the fundraiser and Bodhaine’s passion for it, he “wanted to be a part of it.”

But that’s also typical for his company.

“We try to do that with everybody here,” Smith said. “It’s just part of our culture.”

Benefits of concussion support

Dan Molloy of New Lenox, communications manager for the Concussion Legacy Foundation and a fan of Hairbangers Ball, said he’s excited that the fundraiser is happening so close to his home.

But he’s even more excited that Bodhaine herself, whom he said used some of the foundation’s education and programs, is organizing it.

“Events like this are a really good reminder of the importance of this work,” Molloy said. “Someone who sustains a concussion, it can really change your life.”

The worst part of it is that you look fine. If you have a broken leg, people can see your leg is in a cast. But if it’s an invisible injury, people have to take your word for it.”

—  Ashley Bodhaine, post-concussion syndrome patient and organizer of the Rock Circus fundraiser at The Forge in Joliet

Molloy said people with concussions can feel isolated, lonely, unheard, misunderstood and vulnerable. He said it can be inspiring to know that someone struggling with post-concussion syndrome is organizing a benefit to help others experiencing similar challenges.

“Even if just 10 people at this Rock Circus leave with a better understanding of brain injury and post-concussion syndrome symptoms, it’s a huge win,” Molloy said. “And I’m proud of Ashley for having the courage to share her story.”

Bodhaine said she knew little about concussions, and certainly nothing about post-concussion syndrome, until she experienced her own.

How concussions affect daily life

On Sept. 11, 2019, Bodhaine was in a car crash. She recalled “blacking out” for a moment, being diagnosed with a concussion at a hospital and then being sent home.

“I didn’t really know anything about concussions at the time,” Bodhaine said. “I was in a lot of pain. But I was a single mom and had to get back to work.”

Bodhaine said she had severe migraines and neck pain that incapacitated her. She eventually was admitted into a hospital and received a diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome. The diagnosis was devastating.

“It’s a complete loss of self,” Bodhaine said. “Everything that made you who you were is just ripped away.”

Bodhaine said she missed working and doing volunteer work, but she “could barely do anything.”

“I had trouble following conversations,” she said. “Talking on the phone made my ears feel like they were bleeding. I couldn’t figure out how to make appointments for myself. It was terrifying.

“The worst part of it is that you look fine. If you have a broken leg, people can see your leg is in a cast. But if it’s an invisible injury, people have to take your word for it.”

Bodhaine called the entire experience a “nightmare” until she learned about the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

Now, she just wants to give back.

“They offer support groups. They offer patient services to help you find a doctor,” Bodhaine said. “They offer education, resources and, to me, they are the name you need to know if you hit your head.”


WHAT: Rock Circus featuring Hairbangers Ball

WHEN: 6 p.m. April 27. Hairbangers Ball performs at 9 p.m.

WHERE: The Forge, 22 W. Cass St., Joliet

ETC.: Music by Hairbangers Ball, circus acts, a barbecue menu, speakers and firsthand accounts of concussions.

TICKETS: $20 general admission. Ticket prices vary for other seating. Buy at