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Many people are responsible for helping me learn to adapt to paraplegia. They deserve so much credit and receive so little - the least I can do is acknowledge some of them here. I have left out a large number of people who should be recognized and for that I apologize. Doctors, nurses, technicians, managers, the list is large. Their kind care, dedication and effort far beyond their job requirements have made them special to me for life. They are responsible for providing the physical and mental environment that enabled me to learn to live again.
(Dennis Clark, Creator of, May, 2003)
Al Kaye
Al Kaye is an unsung hero. He is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS), Clinical Specialist, and Brain Injury Program Coordinator. He spends countless extra hours working with patients and people who are no longer patients. He is the coordinator of a program which provides opportunities for challenged individuals so they can try recreational activities such as water skiing, golf, kayaking, SCUBA diving and even climbing an Alpine tower. He is rare and valuable individual.
I salute you Al.
Amy Feltner
Amy Feltner is a physical therapist. For six months she brightened my day, physically strengthened my muscles and taught me skills that I needed. It started with learning how to roll over on an exercise mat and progressed to skills like righting myself while lying on my back in a wheelchair. (I'm still amazed that it can be done.) Amy's demeanor and loving care eased my pain when I was hurting badly. But then, she does that for all of her patients.
I Thank you, Amy. I do.
Beth Melancon
Beth Melancon is an occupational therapist. She taught me many basic life skills that I took for granted as an able-bodied individual; skills that can be quite challenging from a wheelchair. She taught them with a constant, calm grace and good humor which I did not always deserve.
Thank you so much, Beth.
Tricia Erpelding
Tricia Erpelding is a physical therapist. She taught me how to walk using leg braces. We walked for many hours in the halls and corridors of the hospital. I'd walk down any aisle with Tricia. I know - I'm incorrigible.
Tricia, thanks for putting up with me.
Dr. Jeffrey S. Hecht
Dr. Hecht was the primary physician in charge of my rehabilitation. He shaped the therapy teams and encouraged a holistic approach to patient care. I think the high calibre and caring nature of the rehab groups today is due to his leadership over the past years. He is now Associate Professor & Chief, Division of Surgical Rehabiltiation, Dept of Surgery at the University of Tennessee where I still plague him with my complaints. He still puts up with me.
Thank you for your patient indulgence, Dr. Hecht.
Evelyn Cole
Evelyn Cole is a speech pathologist. I think she suspected I was a little daft. She gave me a battery of tests to learn how hard I had hit my head. I think they had something to do with memory retention and comprehension. She told me at the time. but that was more than two days ago.
Thanks, Evelyn, I do remember that you treated me exceptionally well.
Jennifer Shinlever
Jennifer Shinlever is a Senior CTRS who works with Al Kaye. She evaluates patients and then enhances their overall functioning and quality of life through recreational therapy. It's a rather dry way of saying that Jennifer's personality brightens every room she enters.
Thank you, Jennifer for bringing light into so many people's lives.
Kristy Clark
Kristy Clark is an occupational therapist. Her last name is the same as mine although she's not married to me. Her birthday's the same as mine although she's younger than me. I thought she was my birthday gift, but her husband disagreed. The knowledge she gave me though, was a wonderful gift.
Thank you Kristy.
Paula Craven
Paula Craven was a CTRS at PNRC. Among her other duties she volunteered her time to the Innovative Recreation Cooperative (IRC) and was always kind and smiling. Only long afterwards did I discover the terrible personal pain she endured.
Your courage and bravery are an inspiration, Paula.
Susie Flynt
Susie Flynt is a psychologist. She kept me in line when I fell in love with each of the absolutely wonderful therapists. Well, I didn't fall in love with the male therapists, even if they did treat me with dignity mano-a-mano. Susie didn't know that I fell in love with her too, though.
Hugs and a smile to you, Susie.
Charles VanArk
Charles VanArk is one of three life-long friends I have had since about fifth grade. After my accident he stayed in our home and modified the bathroom, widened door frames, harangued the contractors who modified our home and helped in ways I can never hope to repay.
He's beyond a friend - he's family.
Betsy, my wife
Last, and most importantly, there's Betsy, my wife. The accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down hurt her psychologically. I think it hurt her worse than it did me. My physical and mental wounds are mostly healed. Hers go deeper and will require more time and loving care. While I was pleasantly floating through neon-colored morphine induced halluciations Betsy did not know whether I would live or die. I didn't learn about her pain for months. She spent twenty-four hours a day by my side in the hospital and in rehab. She spent twelve hours a day at home taking care of the insurance, bills, house work, friends and guests, communications, and even found time to work at her normal job once in a while. (Yes, that really does add up to a 36 hour day.) I went through rehab with several other patients and their wives. At least one wife gave up and walked out on her already traumatized husband. Betsy stayed with me through everything. Words cannot pay adequate tribute.
I love you Betsy.

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