Wednesday April 13, 2005

Funds sought for Jason Foundation
By Gene Morrell



Jason Rooker would have been in his late teens by now, a young man full of hope and filled with promise.

We'll never know.


Jason died at age 11 in September 1997.

Jason, the son of Greg and Fran Rooker, was critically injured in an accident on June 13, 1996, while playing at his home at Claytor Lake. [Greg Rooker is a former publisher of the Radford News Journal.]

Jason, who was then 10, was playing in the yard, and according to a police report at the time, at some point, he tied a rope to a tree branch, climbed a five-foot fence post and then either jumped or fell. In doing so, he become entangled in the rope, according to a News Messenger story at the time.

When his parents found him, they cut the rope and began giving CPR, which revived the child.



However, Jason suffered brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. Such an injury affects the entire brain, and the longer the brain is deprived of oxygen, the more profound the injury.

Jason was a patient at the University of Virginia Hospital's Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center in Charlottesville, and although Jason was unable to walk or speak, he did respond somewhat to extensive physical therapy.

Jason eventually returned home, but he died in his sleep in his own bed at home on Sept. 4, 1997.

Following the accident, there was an outpouring of sympathy from the community, and the Rookers decided to be candid with the public about their son's accident.

"We wanted to showed this can happen to anybody. People need to see something like this. I hope it will awaken people to others and their support to others," Fran Rooker said then.

Last week, she spoke to a meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors and reiterated her family's commitment to helping other families who may be going through a similar situation now or at some time in the future. "No one is immune to brain injury," she said.

With private funding, the Rookers founded the Jason Foundation to help those with brain injures and their families to cope and to help them find the help and support they need.

According to information on the web site, the Jason Foundation provides education, support, resources and funds to brain injury survivors and their families; promotes the establishment of community-based services for brain injury survivors and their families; promotes public awareness and education with regard to the disability of brain injury; and promotes programs that enhance the quality of life of brain injury survivors and their families.

Rooker told the supervisors the Jason Foundation funded the establishment of Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia in July 2001 to provide community-based, specialized case management services for survivors and their families, and the Rookers have been approaching localities in this area seeking possible funding to help the non-profit organization continue to provide services for residents who need them.

The total request from the combined New River Valley localities of City of Radford, Floyd County, Giles County, Pulaski County and Montgomery County is $30,000, Rooker said. Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia serves 11 clients in Montgomery County, and the county is being asked to appropriate $11,000. "This covers $1,000 of the $2,600 average cost per client," Rooker said. "We are also requesting funds from Roanoke City, Roanoke County and the City of Salem. We have already received approval of funding from Pulaski County for the second year in a row."

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors has not yet discussed Rooker's request, and no decision has been made regarding the request for funds.

Editor's note: For more information on the Jason Foundation, see the web site at For more information on Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia, visit the web site at

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