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
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
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 www.jasonfoundation.org,
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
Rooker told the supervisors the Jason Foundation funded the
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 www.jasonfoundation.org. For more information on Brain
Injury Services of Southwest Virginia, visit the web site at
Click here to email Gene Morrell