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Kessler Institute Honors Patients & Staff at Annual Triumph of the Human Spirit Event

Robert Brehm (R), President, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation and Peter Wilderotter, President and CEO, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation ( celebrated the achievements of four remarkable patients and seven members of the hospital’s medical, clinical and support staff at the hospital’s Triumph of the Human Spirit dinner.  This annual event recognizes the hard work and determination of patients, families and rehabilitation professionals in dealing with the challenges of brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury and other devastating injuries and illnesses.  

“A patient’s family recently told me about their father’s favorite quote:  ‘Hard times take time. Impossible times take a little longer.’  I was struck by how true that is of rehabilitation.  The work we do at Kessler Institute does take time and perseverance, exceptional care and expertise.   And because of that, we do make the ‘impossible’ possible     for the thousands of patients we treat each year,” said Kessler President Robert Brehm.

Four patients, who proved what is possible through personal determination, courage and the specialized care at Kessler Institute and Kessler Rehabilitation Center, received the hospital’s Spirit Award:  Craig M. Gallaway, Edgewater, NJ; Jonathan Kistle, Magnolia, DE; Frances P. Martino, North Brunswick, NJ, and David Strucinski, Bayonne, NJ.

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Neil N. Jasey, Jr., M.D., of Montclair, who serves as Director of Brain Injury Rehabilitation, West Orange campus, was presented with the Henry H. Kessler Award for Medical Excellence.  Lauren McDonough, P.T., of Nanuet, NY, Director of Rehabilitation at Kessler’s Saddle Brook campus, received the hospital’s prestigious Leadership Award.  In addition, Emilia Novellino, of Ocean County, Regional Marketing Director for Kessler Rehabilitation Center, accepted Kessler’s Community Service Award for her outstanding work on behalf of several organizations, including special projects to benefit the nation’s active military.

In addition, as part of Kessler’s ongoing commitment to its communities, employees raised more than $8000 for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation (  In accepting the donation, Peter Wilderotter, President and CEO, said, “We are so grateful, with our shared missions, to be the beneficiary of the generosity of the Kessler employees. The magic of this evening shall stay with me a long time as we witnessed joy joined to courage, courage to spirit, and spirit to goodness.”

Kessler’s annual President’s Award, which honors members of the staff whose exceptional work has distinguished them among their peers, was presented to Andrea Garcia, MSW, OTR/L, Clinical Manager at Kessler Rehabilitation Center in Howell, NJ; Barbara Garrett, PT, NCS, senior physical therapist at Kessler Institute, West Orange campus; Mary Jane Mallari, RN, Senior nurse at Kessler’s Saddle Brook campus; and Jennifer L. Weiser, durable medical equipment coordinator at Kessler’s Chester campus.

More than 500 Kessler staff and guests attended the dinner event, which was held at the Hanover Marriott in Whippany, NJ.


About Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation:

Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation is nationally recognized for the treatment and research of both spinal cord and brain injuries and also leads the field in the care and treatment for stroke, neurological diseases, amputation, orthopedic and musculoskeletal conditions and cardiac recovery.  Ranked as one of the top two rehabilitation hospitals in the nation and best in the East by U.S.News & World Report, Kessler has three hospital campuses in West Orange, Saddle Brook and Chester, N.J., and more than 80 outpatient centers throughout the state.  For more information, visit






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