Bristol Herald Courier/Virginia-Tennessean, Nov. 16, 1999
The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Nov. 16, 1999

The Associated Press

RADFORD - Greg and Fran Rooker know firsthand how frustrating it is to have a loved one with a brain injury and no information about how to find help.

Their 11-year-old son, Jason, accidentally hanged himself in 1996 with a toy lasso at the family's Claytor Lake home. Jason's father revived him with CPR, but the boy suffered severe brain damage and lost the use of his arms and legs. He died 16 months later.

Now, the Rookers have started The Jason Foundation to help other families of brain injury victims.

"Resources seemed so hard to find, about therapists, treatment centers, how to help Jason," Mrs. Rooker said.

Without knowing where to turn for help, the Rookers relied on nearly 150 people in the community who volunteered to help with Jason's therapy. Among other things, the volunteers searched libraries and the Internet to find information on brain injuries. Mrs. Rooker and her husband, publisher of Family Community Newspapers, are now sharing that information with other families in need across the country.

Some 2,000 fliers have gone to hospitals, trauma centers and other places announcing the foundation's service. A local law firm has provided office space and donations are covering other costs.

Fran Rooker, founder and president of the Jason Foundation is shown in her Radford, Va office.

The Jason Foundation started unofficially about a week after Jason's death when a Virginia Beach man called the Rookers seeking information on brain trauma for someone in his family.

"That was, I guess, kind of a sign to us," said Mrs. Rooker, "that there were people out there who needed our assistance."

So far, Mrs. Rooker said the foundation has helped about 25 families over the last two years, many of whom have found out about the organizations by word of mouth.


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