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Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute

Inspiration Awards

2013 Inspiration Awards

Each year, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute bestows Inspiration Awards on people:

  • who have persevered despite seemingly insurmountable odds
  • whose achievements or outcomes are extraordinary
  • whose actions serve to encourage others
  • who serve as advocates, championing the issues of those with disabilities.

This year, 15 clients are being honored with the award. Each of them is truly an inspiration to fellow patients, families, caregivers and to all who hear their stories. The 2013 honorees are:

Jonathan Anderson

Jonathan Anderson

Jonathan Anderson of Burnsville, Minnesota has had to work hard to be just a kid. Born prematurely at 36 weeks he weighed just 4 pounds, 5 ounces, and spent 11 days in the hospital. When he was just two months old, Jonathan went into cardiac arrest. After his mother performed CPR at home, he was rushed to the hospital where he was placed on a ventilator for 17 days. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.



Matthew Barron

Matthew Barron

Matthew Barron of Hastings, Minnesota was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was 17. Nearing the end of chemotherapy treatment in the spring of 2012, he required hospitalization for staph infection and multi-organ failure. He lost sensory and motor function in his lower extremities.



Dillon Borowicz

Dillon Borowicz

In the summer of 2012, just before his senior year in high school, Dillon Borowicz of Lakeville dove into his family’s pool; but unlike the hundreds of times he’d done this before, this time he struck the pool’s bottom and had to be pulled out by his brother. Formerly an athlete in football and lacrosse, Borowicz became paralyzed from the neck down and began therapy as an inpatient at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – Abbott Northwestern Hospital.


Lukas Czech

Lukas Czech

Lukas Czech of Woodbury, Minnesota graduated with a double major from Hamline University, and was in the process of starting his own business as a building contractor. He and his partner were new parents.



Abby Dwyer

Abby Dwyer

Abby Dwyer of Ramsey, Minnesota was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when she was 11 years old. Her chemotherapy treatments from 2009-2012 caused her to miss so much school that she was home schooled. Although her leukemia was under control, Dwyer had a lot of joint damage and osteonecrosis of her knees and ankles. Pain caused her much difficulty in standing and walking, and she needed orthotic devices to help her ankle weakness and foot drop.


Jennifer Malinski

Jennifer Malinski

Jennifer Malinski of Buffalo, Minnesota, at age 38, developed rheumatoid arthritis and histoplasmosis and sustained a right intra-cerebral hemorrhage, all of which greatly affected her ability to work, to play, and to take care of her son and home. She was hospitalized at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – Abbott Northwestern Hospital and followed up with outpatient therapy at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – Buffalo.


DJ Moser

DJ Moser

DJ Moser of Blaine, Minnesota is a great example of how hard work in tandem with community services through Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute can change lives for the better for people dealing with mental health challenges.


Robert (Bob) Myer

Robert (Bob) Myer

Robert (Bob) Myer of Cedar, Minnesota had a stroke in the spring of 2013. He was then challenged with impaired mobility and balance, as well as limited use of his left arm, which hampered his ability to do the basic tasks of daily living.



David Rohan

David Rohan

David Rohan of St. Paul Park, Minnesota experienced a stroke this past spring at the age of 39. During hospitalization, he had to be intubated and received a tracheostomy. He also had a GI tube due to impaired swallowing. In addition, he was diagnosed with stress cardiomyopathy. Nevertheless, he progressed to walking with the use of a platform walker before he was discharged from the hospital.


Marlis Scholljegerdes

Marlis Scholljegerdes

Marlis Scholljegerdes of Waseca, Minnesota has had many challenges to overcome. She has been a cancer survivor since 1988; and in the spring of 2012, she had a stroke that affected her right (dominant) arm and leg. She was hospitalized in the inpatient unit at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – Abbott Northwestern Hospital and then referred to outpatient therapy close to home at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – Owatonna.


Dan Seiffert

Dan Seiffert

Dan Seiffert of St. Michael, Minnesota had a stroke in 2012 that severely limited the use of his right arm and leg and affected his ability to be independent and take care of himself. He received therapy at several locations of Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute: acute intensive rehabilitation at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, then transitional rehabilitation at Golden Valley Campus, then home rehabilitation, and finally outpatient physical and occupational therapy at Albertville.



Paul Shelmidine

Paul Shelmidine

Paul Shelmidine of Blaine, Minnesota, an avid cyclist, had a headache when he went on a 20-mile bike ride in May 2012. When he got home, his wife noticed facial drooping and weakness on Shelmidine’s right side. He was immediately hospitalized and underwent neurosurgery.


Jerri Smith

Jerri Smith

Jerri Smith of Minneapolis was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 2010 at age 52. She had to take a medical leave from her job as a veterinarian because PD symptoms prevented her from being able to perform the fine motor tasks and mental sharpness that she needed in her field of veterinary medicine. She was also constantly fatigued and experienced tremors in her left arm, weakness in her left leg, and pain in her knee and calf.


Marion Tragner

Marion Tragner

Marion Tragner of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota was admitted to Abbott Northwestern Hospital following a cardiac arrest in June 2011 at age 69. She also experienced numerous complications that affected the circulation in her right leg. After several surgeries to try to save her leg, her right leg was amputated just above the knee. She was then further challenged by a diagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, which resulted in an extra month in the hospital and then rehabilitation at a long-term care facility.


Robert Wudlick

Robert Wudlick

Robert Wudlick of Excelsior, Minnesota, is an experienced outdoorsman. In 2011, while on a month-long rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, he made a shallow dive off a raft while beached for lunch. Swept up by a current, Wudlick hit his head on the river bottom, fracturing his spine at the C4-C5 level. He also severely bruised his spinal cord.


Hanna Maslowski

Hanna Maslowski is the recipient of the 2012 Patient of the Year Award.

2012 Inspiration Awards

National Rehabilitation Week, September 17-23, is a time to celebrate the effectiveness of medical rehabilitation and share a message of hope, achievement, performance and success.

Rehabilitation adds years to life – and life to years – by giving people with disabling conditions the opportunity to regain independence, dignity and productivity. One in six Americans has a medical condition that affects function; however, most of them have many more capabilities than disabilities.

Each year, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute bestows Inspiration Awards on persons:

  • who have persevered despite seemingly insurmountable odds
  • whose achievements or outcomes are extraordinary
  • whose actions serve to encourage others
  • who serve as advocates, championing the issues of those with disabilities.

This year, 10 patients – one from each of the communities served by the Institute, plus Courage Kenny Kids – are being honored with the award. Each of them is truly an inspiration to fellow patients, families, caregivers and to all who hear their stories. Among these extraordinary individuals, one has been selected as 2012 Patient of the Year.

Hanna Maslowski

Hanna Maslowski - 2012 Patient of the Year

Maslowski, who has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, is the recipient of SKRI's highest Inspiration Award – the 2012 Patient of the Year Award. She has been receiving therapy for several years at Kenny Kids – Coon Rapids.


Alan P. Sakry

Alan P. Sakry

Despite a severe stroke in January 2012, Alan Sakry of Elk River continued to serve his community in numerous ways as he recovered and participated in rehabilitation.


Kannette K. Sheppeard

Kannette K. Sheppeard

Sheppeard's complex medical history and symptoms had prevented her from seeking employment, participating in community activities, and engaging in life activities with family and friends. Eventually, she was referred to the Institute's Buffalo location to address her pain and improve strength and endurance.

Robert Matchinsky

Robert Matchinsky

Robert Matchinsky of Cambridge has lived with multiple sclerosis (MS) for 17 years. His progressive form of MS requires him to adjust his daily schedule to align with the amount of energy and strength he has on that particular day.



Toni Grundstrom

Toni Grundstrom

Toni Grundstrom, a resident of Andover, has received therapy at the Mercy Hospital location for the past two years to help regain functional losses related to multiple sclerosis (MS).


Alan (Frank) Schwab

Alan (Frank) Schwab

Alan Schwab (who prefers to be called Frank) received therapy at the New Ulm location to overcome the debilitating effects of a right-hemisphere aneurysm and a left-hemisphere stroke.

Nancy Vonruden

Vonruden experienced at least four separate occurrences of cancer during a 20-year period. In spite of the debilitating effects of surgeries and treatments, she worked diligently to regain lost ground and maintain the highest possible level of function.

Colleen Nelson

Colleen Nelson

Colleen Nelson of River Falls began having symptoms in late 2007, and was eventually diagnosed with polymyositis, a persistent inflammatory muscle disease causing weakness of the skeletal muscles that control movement.


William Holmberg

William Holmberg

When William Holmberg first arrived in the Institute's inpatient unit, he had severe mobility and cognitive impairments due to a stroke that caused a large brain bleed.


Ross Kneen

Ross Kneen

Prior to his stroke in in April 2011, Kneen was independent and active, but the effects of the stroke were devastating. He had little use of his right arm and leg, needing assistance to get out of bed, take even small steps, and do personal cares, such as bathing, dressing and grooming.

2011 Inspiration Awards

In 2011, seven SKRI patients were honored with Inspiration Awards:

Scott Benz

Scott Benz: Determination well beyond his years

Imagine being only 14 years old and suffering four ischemic strokes! That's what happened to Scott Benz in 2010. The strokes occurred during a five-month period of time until a Microplex coil was inserted into his vertebral artery to prevent further episodes.

Ken Boelter works with a physical therapist on his road to stroke recovery

Giving to others and receiving in return: Ken's story

Coon Rapids Firefighter Ken Boelter continues to fight one of the toughest battles of his life. A stroke paralyzed the left side of his body. But experts at Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute - Mercy Hospital say he's making great strides.


Persistence despite insurmountable odds: Joseph's story

Joseph Buesgens, 49, has overcome insurmountable odds after suffering a major stroke in 2005. He became a resident in a nursing home and required nearly total care for his intractable seizures and headaches. But Buesgens made excellent gains in the acute care setting at Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute (SKRI) – United Hospital.

Denny Burda

Denny Burda: Rejoining life

Denny Burda suffered a stroke while driving to work one day last year. That began a tremendous year of change for Burda and his wife and family.


Doreen Harrington

Walking again after 25 years

It began 25 years ago with weakness that caused Doreen Harrington's legs to give way without warning. It turned out to be a spinal infarction that left her a paraplegic. Her doctors told her she'd never gain function in her legs and would never walk again.


Joe Stone

Joe Stone: Life came crashing down

Last year, Joe Stone's life as he knew it came crashing down on Montana's Mount Jumbo. The impact left him paralyzed from the chest down. This year, Stone is riding through Glacier National Park on his hand-powered bicycle.


Enthusiasm of 7-year-old inspired others

In March 2011, Benedict Luis Villarosa, age 7, had sudden onset of left side loss of movement, facial droop, impaired speech and uncontrollable jerking in his left extremities. Villarosa underwent a craniotomy and resection of a cavernous malformation and was later referred to Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute (SKRI) - Cambridge for outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapies. On just his third visit he exclaimed, "Therapy is so much fun. I couldn't wait to get here!"