Jason Foundation provides lasting legacy

Radford News Journal, January 17, 2001

By Charles Fretwell

Lee Van Size is shown enjoying a laugh with Jason Rooker

Radford Ė Last week we reprinted a column I did on the late Jason Rooker, the 10-year-old son of Greg and Fran Rooker. In this particular column I want to bring you up to date on some exciting news of how Greg and Fran have turned an excruciating experience of the loss of a child into a wonderful, warm circumstance that is offering hope for other parents facing the same experiences that they faced. The Jason Foundation that they formed is doing a wonderful job of providing information and direction for parents and families facing similar problems and circumstances and I want to share with you a letter form Fran covering their operation of The Jason Foundation. I urge your support for The Jason Foundation.

Dear Friends,
This has been an exciting year for The Jason Foundation. As we continued to serve families by providing support, information, referrals, and limited financial grants, we became increasingly aware of a larger picture of what is needed to support survivors of brain injury and their family members. So we took action in several new directions.

We initiated legislative action which resulted in a study of the Virginia Brain Injury Central Registry by the Joint Commission on Health Care. Although hospitals are mandated by the Code of Virginia to report survivors of brain injury to this Registry, our research showed many hospitals were not complying. Without names of survivors, the Department of Rehabilitative Services and the Brain Injury Association of Virginia are unable to provide resources and support to thousands of families through their outreach programs. We believe that only 25 percent of survivorsí names actually reach the Registry. The Joint Commission will present suggestions for solutions to the problems during the coming legislative session.

On a national level, a Jason Foundation grant is allowing the faculty and staff of George Washington University to reestablish the only masterís degree program in the country in acquired brain injury. This program trains specialized educators to work with schools having students in special education and general curriculums who are brain injury survivors. Within the state, we became actively involved in two statewide associations, the Virginia Brain Injury Council and the Virginia Alliance for Service Providers, representing not only The Jason Foundation, but also serving as a representative of the Advisory Board to the Roanoke Brain Injury Chapter. Locally, we supported the Radford High Nursing Programís successful effort to enact a bicycle helmet law in Radford, and also provided grant money to supply protective helmets for children who use the new skateboard ramp at Radfordís Recreation Department.

Our future plans have also taken an expansive direction. With support of the Roanoke Chapter, we will be birthing Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia (BIS) in November. This effort is being mentored by Brain Injury Services of Northern Virginia, which has been operating successfully for eleven years. Through partnerships with local organizations and with funding from public and private sources, services will be offered to help those with Acquired Brain Injuries conquer their challenges and reintegrate back into their communities. Andrea Lewis, a seven-year employee of the Department of Rehabilitative Services, has accepted the position as the first Director of Program Services, with funding for the position provided by The Jason Foundation. In the coming months additional Service Coordinators will be added to the staff, to work directly with families in coordinating long-term services and opportunities for maximizing rehabilitation and improving quality of life. Recent meetings with Radford University staff have established the groundwork for collaboration between the new Waldron College of Health and Human Services and Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia.

One would think all this growth would require an increase in office space. For the past year and a half we have been operating from an office generously provided by local attorney, Richard Wall. Just as plans for Brain Injury Services were beginning, First Virginia Bank Southwest graciously donated a suite of offices in the Radford Norwood Branch.

Such blessing and growing opportunities to be of service continue to amaze us. Since brain injury occurs more frequently than breast cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord injury, we are grateful for the chance to make a difference in the lives of survivors and their families. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we strive to bring them hope. We ask that you share our news of the past year with all those who may need us, and all those who may wish to support us. Please let them know that their gifts are tax deductible, and sincerely appreciated.

May blessings continue in your lives!

Fran Rooker, President


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