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BIAPA Presents 2017 Awards
BIAPA Presents 2017 Awards

The Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania presented awards to 10 individuals, one family and one organization at its 2017 conference in June.

The Organization Award was presented to Hope After Head Injury. Founded by brain injury survivor Cristabelle Braden, Hope After Head Injury works to provide a support system for survivors and caregivers through an online support group and weekly live video broadcasts.

The Service to the Association Award was presented to Monica Vaccaro, BIAPA’s Program Director, who has provided incredible stability and leadership to BIAPA, in leading our programs, providing advocacy, and being a support to our BIRL team. She conducts professional trainings, represents BIAPA very professionally on state committees, and is a wonderful liaison between BIAPA and the individuals and their families who rely on our support and advocacy.  

The John Sears Inspiration Award
was presented to two people: Brianne Applegate and Janet McIlhenny. While recovering from her injury, Brianne Applegate discovered the healing power of art and has used her artistic talent to inspire others. She volunteers as an art teacher at St. Mary Rehabilitation Hospital and also as a dance instructor for people with disabilities. After suffering four vascular accidents, Janet McIlhenny lost the ability to read. Through determination and hard work, she achieved that goal and went on to found a Book Club as part of the Lehigh Valley Brain Injury Support Group.

The Dennis Minori Family Tribute Award was presented to Michael, Sharon and CB Miller. Since CB’s injury, the Miller family have committed themselves to providing education, support and advocacy efforts in the brain injury community. Despite stressors they may experience, they have consistently thought beyond their own personal needs and reached out to improve systems so that others will benefit.

The Service to the Brain Injury Community Award was presented to two people: William Gardner and Kevin McDonald. After earning a PhD. in Clinical Neuropsychology from Drexel University, Dr. William Gardner has been providing exemplary service to the brain injury community for 18 years through ReMed in its Community Outpatient Services Program. In addition to providing education to lawyers, nurses, and insurance providers about brain injuries, he is often requested to speak at National Brain Tumor Society and Foundation support groups and other professional association conferences. Brain injury survivor Kevin McDonald is the founder of Restart Your Life Renew Your Mind, Inc., a non-profit organization that assists survivors with one-time opportunities and develops awareness events, brain fairs, public speaking, helmets for kids, and advocating for stronger return to play mandates for private sports clubs for kids.. Kevin has also gone with BIAPA to Washington, DC multiple times to advocate on behalf of brain injury survivors.

The Leadership Award was presented to two individuals: Martin J. Diorio, Ph.D. and Deborah Kimmel, M.D. They were recognized for their exemplary work at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital in Allentown, Pa., where they have contributed to improvements in the quality of life for people with brain injuries and their family members and friends, and they have advanced the field of brain injury rehabilitation through the development of staff working at all levels with survivors of brain injury.

The Pioneer in Brain Injury Award was presented to David Long, M.D. Medical Director of the Brain Injury Program at Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital, Dr. Long is actively involved in brain injury research, and he has lectured and published extensively in the brain injury field, including multiple journal articles and several book chapters and has focused on utilizing the brain’s remarkable plasticity to facilitate rehabilitation and recovery. He has co-chaired national conferences in neurorehabilitation for the American Society of NeuroRehabilitation (ASNR).

The Public Policy Award was presented to Wayne Bear, Executive Director of the Juvenile Detention Centers of Pennsylvania and CEO of the National Partnership for Juvenile Services. He has served as an unofficial ambassador for the Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Brain Injury Project, an initiative funded through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. This is an important and challenging undertaking that works to identify youth with brain injury in the juvenile justice system and connect them to brain injury resources upon community re‐entry, offering them the best possible chance to alter the trajectory of their lives.

The Direct Service Award was presented to Eddie Figueroa, Direct Care Counselor with Success Rehabilitation, who was honored for his commitment to his clients, leadership and success in developing and implementing new systems and his ability to interface with the therapists, case managers, nurses and other team members to ensure that the residents assigned to his care receive the BEST quality.

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