Villa Park teacher makes 'miraculous' recovery from brain trauma

  • Elise Boni and her fiancé Ryan Forner have decided to continue with their plans for a July wedding as Boni recovers from a traumatic brain injury.

    Elise Boni and her fiancé Ryan Forner have decided to continue with their plans for a July wedding as Boni recovers from a traumatic brain injury. Courtesy of Boni Family

Posted4/4/2016 5:30 AM

When Elise Boni suffered a traumatic brain injury in early December, doctors said it could take years for her to relearn how to do the most simple things like walking and talking.

Not only is the popular Villa Park teacher walking and talking -- while continuing her intense physical and occupational therapy -- she's in the midst of planning her July 16 wedding to Ryan Forner.


Boni, a 26-year-old fifth-grade teacher at Villa Park's Ardmore Elementary School, suffered a seizure on the morning of Dec. 4, 2015, caused by a blood clot and bleeding in her brain.

After a hemicraniectomy, which removed a portion of her skull to relieve pressure from the swelling, Boni spent nearly a month in Northwestern's neuro-critical intensive care unit.

Boni left Northwestern at the end of December and entered an acute rehabilitation center, where she was expected to stay for at least a month.

"Within three weeks she was feeding herself, beginning to talk and she walked out of the building," said Elise's mother, Barb Boni. "She's coming back faster than medical staff ever expressed to us."

Elise recently had the portion of her skull replaced and is recuperating.

"Considering there has always been a chance (Elise) didn't survive this, she's doing very well," Barb Boni said, "She's not yet back at work, but she's managing her walking and talking and taking care of herself. And plans for the wedding are moving right along."

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Barb Boni said Elise's doctors have called her progress "miraculous."

It's unclear when Boni will be cleared to return to work. She has counted on family and friends to help bridge the gap.

Members of her Alpha Gamma Delta sorority created a YouCaring page last week to keep friends and family updated on her condition and give them an outlet to help pay her mounting medical bills. Boni, 26, was a member of the sorority when she attended Illinois State University.

And the Oakbrook Terrace Lions Club will donate proceeds from its 28th annual pasta dinner on May 21 to Boni.

"Her medical costs are extreme and she's not working. She's still having to pay high premiums in addition to her living expenses," Elise Boni said. "I don't know what she would do if she didn't have the kindness and generosity of everyone to fall back on."


Lions Club Secretary Frank Orozen said the dinners typically raise up to $1,000.

"Elise's plight was brought to us right around the time we began planning the pasta dinner and it seemed like the perfect situation where we could help," Orozen said. "Hopefully by getting the word out we can bring as much in for her as possible."

The annual dinner is from 4:30 to 7 p.m. May 21, at Salvation Army Hall, 1S415 Summit Road, in Oakbrook Terrace. Adult tickets are $7 and are available from any Oakbrook Terrace Lions Club member or at the door.

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