People & Places – May 2015

Olympic hopeful visits HCMC patients Snowboarder Kevin Pearce, who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2009 while training for […]

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Olympic hopeful visits HCMC patients

Photo courtesy of HCMC

Photo courtesy of HCMC

Snowboarder Kevin Pearce, who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2009 while training for the Olympics, visited Hennepin County Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Center in April to visit with and encourage TBI patients. He spoke with patients, posed for pictures and signed autographs.

HCMC’s TBI Center was chosen as a visit site for Pearce because of its reputation for exceptional care of TBI patients and its leadership in the industry. The care and encouragement I received during my recovery was so important and now I want to support and encourage others living with a traumatic brain injury,” said Pearce.

Pearce is an internationally renowned sports commentator, motivational speaker and advocate for TBI education, prevention, rehabilitation and research, as well as a sports ambassador for the National Down Syndrome Society. On December 31, 2009, Pearce was attempting a cab double cork in a half-pipe in Park City, Utah when he had an accident and was injured. The HBO documentary about his experience “The Crash Reel –the Ride of a Lifetime” won an Emmy for Outstanding Information Program.

Each year, more than 1.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury. Among children and young adults, TBI is the leading cause of death and disability. In Minnesota, nearly 100,000 brain injuries occur annually. A large percentage of those injuries are mild to moderate cases and often go untreated.

As a Level I Trauma Center, Hennepin County Medical Center admits and treats the most traumatic brain injuries in the state. The Traumatic Brain Injury Center at Hennepin County Medical Center offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary patient care, education and research to serve people who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Each year, professionals at the Traumatic Brain Injury Center care for more than 2,000 patients. Providing a full range of state-of-the-art medical and rehabilitative services, the TBI Center features caregivers whose expertise spans the entire continuum of care for adult and pediatric TBI patients



Pedal in Place race marks third year

Photo courtesy of Pedal in Place

Photo courtesy of Pedal in Place

For the third year, teams of bicyclists gathered for a day of biking, teamwork and friendly competition at the Mounds Park Academy gymnasium in St. Paul. These competitors didn’t race to a finish line. Instead, they pedaled in place in a fundraiser for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and United Cerebral Palsy of Minnesota.

During Pedal in Place, teams of 10 riders pedaled for 20 minutes each. The minimum pledge for a team to race is $1,000, with teams raising funds in the month-and-a-half leading up to the race. This year, Pedal in Place more than doubled in size, with 23 teams participating and pre-event fundraising approaching $30,000.

Proceeds from Pedal in Place will help families of Gillette patients, who have cerebral palsy and other disabilities, purchase adaptive recreational equipment suited to their child’s unique needs.

This year’s event, which was held earlier this spring, was held in conjunction with the Adapted Bike and Sports Expo, where children and adults who have disabilities could test ride and purchase the latest in sports equipment, such as bicycles and tricycles, adapted to their needs. As a result, teams were able to witness the impact of their fundraising firsthand.



Wood receives Gerontological Society award

Jean Wood, executive director of the Minnesota Board on Aging and director of Aging and Adult Services for the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), is receiving the Dutch Kastenbaum Outstanding Gerontologist Award from the Minnesota Gerontological Society in April. The award was presented at the society’s annual conference.

“I cannot think of a more worthy recipient than Jean Wood, who has devoted her career to improving the lives of older adults,” said Sue Humphers-Ginther, co-president of the Minnesota Gerontological Society Board of Directors.

Humphers-Ginther said Wood’s key accomplishments have included spearheading development of Senior LinkAge Line, Minnesota’s information and referral system for older adults and their families which has expanded to include information and referral services for other populations, including the web-based Wood has also helped lead development of home and community-based services to allow older adults to remain in their homes as they age.

A DHS employee since 1993, Wood has served in her current position since 2006. She previously was deputy director of the Minnesota Board on Aging and held other aging-related positions in the department. She earlier was with the National Association of State Units on Aging in Washington, D.C., and was a state long-term care ombudsman in Ohio. She holds two master’s degrees, in public administration and in social work, both from Ohio State University, as well as a bachelor’s degree from Immaculate Heart College, Los Angeles. She lives in Excelsior.

The Dutch Kastenbaum Award recognizes individuals who have contributed to the lives of older people throughout Minnesota. It is named for a former social worker who was a champion of service programs for older people. He later became well known for his weekly television show, “Senior Citizen Forum,” which ran for almost 25 years.



Greenway’s foundation helps families

Photo courtesy of Lead The Way Foundation

Photo courtesy of Lead The Way Foundation

Minnesota Vikings star Chad Greenway, his wife Jenni and the Lead the Way Foundation hosted two events in April. The primary focus of the Lead the Way Foundation is to provide critically and chronically ill children and their families throughout Greater Minneapolis with daily support and life changing experiences. Many of the children have disabilities.

One event was the sixth annual Chad’s Locker, an electronic hub that provides access to iPads, laptops, Leap Frog Readers, DVDs, games and other electronics to patients and their families. The locker, presented by First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard was launched at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD. It is the first Chad’s Locker in his home state of South Dakota. The locker will service 25,000 people annually.

“We feel great that we were able to make it out to South Dakota,” said Greenway. “We were thrilled that First PREMIER stepped up to help launch this. We’ve always had a strong personal connection with Sanford Health and we are glad to be able to extend our foundation back home and help give more children and families a more positive experience.”

Lead the Way Foundation has five lockers in the Greater Twin Cities, at University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, Children’s Minneapolis Hospital – Geek Squad Precinct, Hudson Hospitals and Clinics, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota – St. Paul and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare – Ronald McDonald Family Room. Together, these lockers have touched the lives of more than 375,000 people. Plans for a seventh locker located in Hutchinson are underway.

The Greenways also hosted the fifth annual TendHER Heart Brunch for 170 mothers of chronically ill children, at Hilton Minneapolis Hotel. The private luncheon is one of several programs meant to give support to mothers of chronically and critically ill children in the Greater Twin Cities. Mothers enjoyed brunch, cocktails and mocktails, gifts from Burt’s Bees and generous sponsor South Hill Designs, photos, and an opportunity to share their story. Women were encouraged to keep in contact throughout the year via a private group on Facebook, hosted by Greenway. This year’s luncheon was the largest in the program’s history.

“This is really an opportunity for these strong women to connect with people who have a shared experience,” said Greenway. “I am so thankful to the women who have attended every year, and to the many new faces I saw today, for coming out to offer each other support.”

In May, Lead the Way Foundation will host Field of Dreams – an all-expense-paid weekend stay-cation for 15 families with a chronically or critically ill family member. Sponsored by Mall of America and Radisson Blu Hotel, this stay-cation will offer families who very rarely get to pamper themselves a nice weekend together to bond and have fun.



Spotlight placed on disability issues

Embracing the Difference: the ABILITY event and the St. Cloud State University (SCSU) School of Health and Human Services Colloquium put a spotlight on disability issues April 13. Participants gained awareness about disability, and how it is viewed by society, by taking part in several activities.

Event participants could take part in seven different disability-themed experiential learning scenario stations. Each station was led by a SCSU student or community member with a disability. Autism, blindness/vision loss, ADD/ADHD, deafness/hard of hearing, cerebral palsy, mental health and spinal cord injury were the disabilities featured at the stations.

The keynote address was delivered by Aaron Cross, a first-year student in the SCSU Rehabilitation Counseling Master’s program. Cross is a life skills coach, and speaks publically and professionally through his company, Motivation on Wheels. He urged those at the event to focus on their dreams and not give up.

At age 15, Cross was injured while competing in a bicycle race. He broke his neck in three place and was paralyzed. He still bicycles and pursues other outdoor activities, and is best known as a champion archer. Cross has been a three-time member of the US Paralympic Archery team, winning Team Bronze in the 2004 Athens Summer Paralympic Games.

Many volunteers made the spring ABILITY event possible, including coordinator Amy Knopf, an assistant professor in the SCSU Rehabilitation Counseling program. Undergraduate and graduate students in several other programs were also involved.



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