People and Places - August 2009

Chuck Aoki and Joe Delagrave are two Courage Center athletes chosen for the United States Quad Rugby Association 2009 U.S. Wheelchair Rugby National Team that will compete at the 2009 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation Americas Zone Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 26-31. Aoki, of Minneapolis, will be a starter. St. Paul resident Delagrave is an alternate. Both have been on Courage Center sports teams in recent years. The team also includes 2008 Paralympic gold medalists Jason Regier, Nick Springer and Chance Sumner, and 2004 Paralympic bronze medalist Brent Poppen. Keri Morgan is the first female athlete named to a U.S. wheelchair rugby national team.

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The Minnesota Fringe Festival, which wrapped up in early August, featured works by disability community members. The festival featured more than 150 different works in a number of Minneapolis and St. Paul venues.

That Chair is My Wife, by DeafBlender Theater, was performed by Andrew J. Oehrlein. The play was written by Raymond Luczak, who is a contributing writer for Access Press. The play is about a furniture salesman with an extremely unhealthy obsession with chairs.

Every Pastie Tells a Story is a play about three good Catholic girls in Milwaukee. It was written and performed by Nancy Donoval, a past winner of grants from VSA Arts of Minnesota.

Stroke is No Joke was written, directed and performed by Mary Helena, about one woman’s stroke and the reactions of others to it.

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A new organization has been formed to advocate for older Minnesotans, in the wake of the shutdown of the Minnesota Senior Federation. Mature Voices Minnesota is forming to take on the Federation’s longtime senior advocacy role. The new group will focus on health care, Medicare, drug costs, property taxes, housing and other issues that affect older Minnesotans. Care-giving and workforce issues will also be targeted by the new group.

The group filed its incorporation papers with the state in July. The new board chairman is Richfield resident Bob Hines. The 37-year-old Federation shut down July 1 after financial struggles and several years of declining membership. Many of its programs were spun off to other groups. Mature Voices Minnesota will have no dues, no members and no age restrictions. It will seek support through grants and donations.

Anyone wanting more information on Mature Voices Minnesota can call Lee Graczyk at (612) 296-3247.

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Chuck Hamilton has stepped down as director State Services for the Blind, a position he held since 2003. But Hamilton hasn’t gone far. Now he is managing the services’ special projects. Hamilton had the transition last month.

Hamilton began working for State Services for the Bind in 1976, as a counselor in St. Cloud. He then moved into the business enterprise program, which trains blind people to run their own food service businesses. He was director of that program from 1984-2000, leaving there to become director of the communication center and the senior services unit. Richard Strong is acting director until a permanent director is chosen.

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Physical medicine and rehabilitation physician Scott Crowe, MD, is the new medical director for the Fairview Acute Rehabilitation Center, located on the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis. The center serves more than 600 patients annually, providing rehabilitation services for stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple major traumas, neurological disorders, joint replacement, amputations, hip fracture and medically-complex conditions.

Board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, Dr. Crowe earned his medical degree and completed his physical medicine and rehabilitation residency at the University of Minnesota Medical School-Twin Cities. His special medical interests include neuro-rehabilitation, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and movement disorders. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Minnesota and is site director for the residency program at the medical school.

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Michael Deutsch, who billed himself as “the world’s only one-handed, one-hooked, piano player extraordinaire” died of cancer June 24 in Minneapolis. The lifelong musician was 52. He was a native of St. Paul.

Deutsch played bass guitar until he lost his left hand in a workplace accident at age 20. He then switched to piano, calling himself “The Hook.” is band was Hook’s Combo. He also played with other musicians and groups around the Twin Cities, and was the regular solo piano player for years at The Malt Shop in southwest Minneapolis. His music of choice was jazzy blues.

Deutsch also worked with VSA Arts of Minnesota in its education programs.

Deutsch was a self-taught piano player, even coming up with his own way to keep the sharp hook end from clinking when it hit the keys. He used the rubber boot of a spark plug to cap the hook and play correctly, after trying a number of other materials.

A Star Tribune feature told how Deutsch used his disability in talks about perseverance and how to overcome adversity. He had faced many hardships in his life, losing his mother and sister in a fire at age 13, and having to live with other relatives. He suffered a stroke in 1997 and lost his son, Michael II, in a 2006 motor vehicle accident.

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Arc of Southeastern Minnesota has moved to a new location. The agency moved to the Bandel Heights Business Park at 6301 Bandel Rd N.W., #605, Rochester. The agency is in the southwest corner of the building.

The agency has not changed its phone numbers, email addresses and Web site. Get more information about the move at www.arcse-mn.org

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An evening of entertainment and fundraising that included performances by Elton John, Billy Crystal, Tony Bennett, and Gladys Knight resulted in Starkey Hearing Foundation, the global leader in delivering the gift of hearing, raising more than $5 million to support its mission of helping the world to hear. Starkey Hearing Foundation hosted its Ninth Annual “So the World May Hear” Awards Gala on, July 12 at the RiverCentre in St. Paul. The funds raised will enable the foundation to distribute 50,000 hearing aids to children in need worldwide.

“Elton John. Billy Crystal. Tony Bennett. Gladys Knight. What a line-up, and what a magnificent evening of entertainment,celebration and generosity, the kind of generosity that is simply unprecedented. The kind of generosity that is born of passion and commitment. the kind of generosity that will allow us to open the world as we know it-a world of music, laughter, language, and love-to kids all over the world by giving them the gift of hearing,” said William F. Austin, founder of Starkey Hearing Foundation.

The evening featured the comedy of Billy Crystal as well as performances by Gladys Knight, Tony Bennett, Ethan Bortnick, and Nita Whitaker. Elton John capped off the evening with a onehour performance that included such hits as “Rocket Man,” “Your Song,” “Daniel,” and “Circle of Life.” A live auction included a hearing mission trip to Kenya to fit 5,000 people with hearing aids. That auction item earned the evening’s top bid of $250,000. The evening would not have been complete without the recognition of others who have made their own significant contributions to humanity. This year’s award recipients included comedian Norm Crosby; the 1961 New York Yankees, who were represented by Moose Skowron, Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry, Bob Turley, and Mickey Mantle’s son David Mantle; Minnesota philanthropists and business leaders Marilyn and Dr. Glen Nelson; and Rayovac, a long-time supporter of Starkey Hearing Foundation.

Starkey Hearing Foundation delivers hearing instruments via hearing missions in 86 countries. Founded by William F. Austin in 1984 with the vision So the World May Hear, countless numbers of lives are touched by better hearing through Starkey Hearing Foundation missions. The organization Web address is www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org