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BIAPA Honors Eight at 2013 Conference
BIAPA Honors Eight at 2013 Conference

The Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania presented awards to seven individuals and one organization at its annual conference in June.

Dr. Ann Marie McLaughlin received the Pioneer in Brain Injury Award in recognition of her initiative, expertise and creativity leading to the development of services and support in the field of brain injury rehabilitation. Clinical director of community outpatient services for ReMed, she assures that individual survivors’ needs are met , as well as the needs of family members and caregivers. Dr. McLaughlin is also co-chair of the Community-based Treatment Task Force of the Brain Injury Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Vicki Eicher received the Leadership Award in recognition of her advocacy efforts and their impact on the field of brain injury rehabilitation. Director of quality management and training for ReMed, Eicher played a vital role in the development of the Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities’ (PARF) web-based Outcomes Benchmarking Project, which has received national attention.


Adam Wertz received the John Sears Inspiration Award. Named for the late artist and brain injury survivor, John Sears, this award recognizes individuals who have overcome significant challenges and utilized their talents and strengths to attain personal achievements. Wertz sustained a very severe brain injury in a work-related accident at Carpenter Technology in Reading, Pa. After much work and rehabilitation, he is an active and respected volunteer for many local organizations including the United Way, the Salvation Army, Junior Achievement and the American Cancer Society. He has also served as a guest speaker about workplace safety for Carpenter Technology and other Pennsylvania businesses.


The Direct Care Service Award was presented to two individuals: Gary Wirsch and Robert Herle. A direct service professional at Success Rehabilitation for the last 22 years, Gary Wirsch consistently shows care and compassion for the clients with whom he works. He is always willing to give a helping hand to other staff, whether teaching newly hired staff or supporting other co-workers with a difficult situation.  In nominating him for this award, Success noted that his daily positive actions are greatly appreciated by their clients, families and staff.

Robert Herle has been working with individuals with brain injuries at The Children’s Institute in Pittsburgh for 32 years. He has been consistently identified by patients and their families as a caring, compassionate and dedicated professional. In nominating him for this award, The Children’s Institute wrote that he “uses humor and a positive outlook to encourage each patient to participate in their rehabilitation program, and he provides exceptional education and training to prepare caregivers for discharge.”

Brenda Eagan Brown received the Service to the Brain Injury Community Award in recognition of her exemplary service in the areas of advocacy, education and raising social awareness relating to the needs of individuals with brain injury and their families. As statewide program coordinator for BrainSTEPS, the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania’s child and adolescent brain injury school consulting program, she is responsible for creating and implementing a statewide school re-entry consulting team model program for children with acquired brain injuries in grades K-12.

The Service to the Association Award was presented to Dennis Minori, president of the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania in recognition of his work as a volunteer to support the mission and vision of the Association. Father of a brain injury survivor, has volunteered countless hours to fundraising, managing brain safety fairs and administrative management to help the Association achieve its goals.

The Organization Award was presented to the Acquired Brain Injury Network of Pennsylvania (ABIN-PA) in recognition of the collective activities of a group of individuals who have made an impact on the brain injury community. The ABIN-PA is composed of brain injury  survivors and family members who are dedicated to increasing public awareness about acquired brain injury. It has played a vital role in supporting the state-wide Brain Injury Coalition and providing support, education, information, advocacy and other services for individuals with acquired brain injury and their families.

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