People and Places - July 2012

Dad on Wheels gets around

Steve Laux, 35, of Minneapolis is the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation’s 2012 Best Dad on Wheels. Being a dad is “the best job ever!” according to Laux, who netted almost 4,500 online votes. Laux lives with a C5, C6 level spinal cord injury from a diving accident at Lake Superior in 1998.

Father to his three daughters, McKenzie, 3, and twins Devon and Dakota, 11 months, Laux said, “I’ve only been at it three years, so I’ve obviously learned more from them than any other job I’ve had. It’s an outstanding role to look into these eyes.”

Along with being a father and husband, Laux is a market development consultant at Medtronic, Inc. “I enjoy working for a company whose mission is aligned with my aspirations in life,” he said. Laux also serves on nonprofit organization boards and volunteers at the Courage Center, where he is involved with the ABLE program, which is part of the Reeve Foundation’s Community Fitness and Wellness Facility.

“I couldn’t be happier to have been a part of this contest,” he said. Laux noted that the Best Dad on Wheels contest comes at an opportune time as the beginning of summer marks an increase in recreational accidents resulting in spinal cord injuries. “It is truly great that Christopher Reeve’s foundation is continuing his remarkable legacy of being an outstanding person and dad, while bringing awareness to another aspect of life with a spinal cord injury.”

“We are pretty easy going. They can’t really understand the broken neck thing,” Steve said when asked about how his girls get along with dad in a chair. “So I just say my legs don’t work. McKenzie’s growing up with it, she doesn’t see it as anything different, but I’m sure she’ll start asking questions in the next several years, I’m anxiously awaiting it.”

Some of his favorite moments with his 11-monthold daughters are spending quality time cuddling, rocking, singing songs and reading books. “It is absolutely hectic. My wife, Chau, will have one or two and I’ll have one!”

 

PACER video wins award

A PACER Center video about uncovering the talents and skills of children with disabilities through appropriate services and education has won a Telly Award. “Hidden Treasure,” which debuted at PACER Center’s 30th Annual Benefit in May, was a Bronze Winner in the 33rd Annual Telly Awards, Charitable/ Not-for-Profit category. This widely known and highly respected international competition receives more than 12,000 entries annually from all around the world.

“The Telly Awards has a mission to honor the very best in film and video,” said Linda Day, Executive Director of the Telly Awards. “PACER Center’s accomplishment illustrates their creativity, skill, and dedication to their craft and serves as a testament to great film and video production.”

“The goal of our video is to show that children with disabilities have great possibilities,” said Paula Goldberg, PACER’s executive director. “PACER’s mission is to expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life of children and young adults with disabilities and their families, and we are so pleased that this video starring a wonderful five-year-old boy has received such a great honor.”

“Hidden Treasure” was written and produced by Julie Holmquist, Senior Writer/Editor at PACER Center, and directed and edited by Evan Johnson of Ellida Productions in Marine on St. Croix. Five-year-old James Gladen, who has cerebral palsy and is the son of Jim and Allison Gladen of Victoria starred in the video. A portion of the video was filmed at Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul.

 

 

 

 

Hospital celebrates six years of operation

Minnesota’s first Community Behavioral Health Hospital (CBHH), located in Alexandria, is marking six years of providing mental health services to area residents. CBHH-Alexandria was established as part of a redesign of mental health services in Minnesota intended to replace inpatient mental health treatment provided on large regional treatment center campuses with smaller, 16-bed psychiatric hospitals and an array of other community mental health supports.

Like the community behavioral health hospitals that opened after it, the Alexandria hospital has provided individualized, person-centered treatment close to the patient’s home and community. In its six years, the facility has served more than 1,000 patients.

As the hospital marks this milestone, administrator John Cosco, who opened the facility in February 2006, is preparing to retire Aug. 1. “I’ve been a senior-level health care executive for the past 40 years and the commitment, dedication and passion that I have seen displayed by our staff in Alexandria is unparalleled,” said Cosco. “Here, people are treated as people, not as numbers.”

The average length of stay at the Alexandria hospital is 20-22 days, compared to 45-50 days at regional treatment center campuses.

 

 

Friends of the Elderly presents Awards

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter of Little Brothers— Friends of the Elderly honored eight community partners as recipients of the 2012 Ambassador Award at its Annual Meeting on June 21 in Minneapolis. The awards recognize individuals and organizations for the significant contributions they’ve made in advancing the agency’s mission of providing companionship to isolated elders in the Twin Cities area.

“We’re pleased to present the Ambassador Award to these partners who have worked tirelessly to connect isolated elders with the community through events, sponsorships, grants, professional services and one-on-one efforts,” said Greg Voss, Executive Director of Friends of the Elderly.

Several businesses and institutions were honored for providing professional services, sponsorships, event help and resources. They are Blake School, UCare, McGough Construction, Prom Center, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church and Franke+Fiorella Brand Identity Design.

Individuals honored for volunteer service are Claudia Brumm and Michael Dietrich. Photos of the event can be viewed on Friends of the Elderly’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/LittleBrothersMN.

 

 

ARRM elects new board

The Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota (ARRM), a statewide association of private community-based providers that support people with disabilities, is pleased to announce its 2012-2015 board of directors.

“We are especially excited about the potential contributions of our new directors,” said ARRM’s CEO Bruce Nelson. “As disability services in Minnesota undergo a dramatic transformation, this board will be instrumental in advancing ARRM’s reform plan, as well as sustaining and building ARRM’s membership.”

ARRM’s board is comprised of disability industry leaders empowered by their organizations to make decisions affecting services for thousands of Minnesotans with disabilities. During the nomination process, ARRM sought experts from the disability provider community who will make significant contributions to ARRM and the larger disability industry the coming years. Each director can serve up to three 3-year terms on ARRM’s board.

The incoming members of ARRM’s 2012-15 board of directors are David Doth, REM Minnesota; John Estrem, Hammer; John Everett, Community Involvement Programs; Brenda Fagan, Range Center, Inc.; Brenda Goral, Opportunity Partners, Inc.; Sandy Henry, Sengistix, LLC; Barb Hoheisel, Mains’l Services, Inc.; Rhonda Peterson, Integrity Living Options, Inc., Karin Stockwell, Dungarvin Minnesota and Lisa Zaspel, Fraser.

 

 

Holland is new president

Stuart Holland, manager of Minnesota’s Radio Talking Book, has been named president of the International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS). He was named to the post this spring at an IAAIS gathering in Houston, TX.

The organization encourages and supports the establishment and maintenance of audio information services that provide access to printed information for individuals who cannot read conventional print because of blindness or any other visual, physical or learning disability. It is a volunteer-driven membership organization of services that turn text into speech for people who cannot see, hold or comprehend the printed word and who may be unable to access information due to a disability or health condition.

Since its formation in 1977, IAAIS (formerly the Association of Radio Reading Services) has assisted, represented and set standards of good practice for audio information services worldwide. IAAIS currently represents 140-some services and developing services. Member services can be found throughout the United States and in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Africa. Many IAAIS members in the United States are associated with public radio stations, colleges, universities or libraries.

The first president of the organization was C. Stanley Potter, who was the Director of the State Services for the Blind in Minnesota when the Radio Talking Book began. Holland is the only other Minnesotan to hold that post.