VERONA, NJ — Proceeds from the Kessler Foundation’s 13th annual Stroll ‘n Roll at Verona Park on Sunday will support the Kessler Foundation’s internationally renowned medical rehabilitation research and provide funding for a variety of disability employment initiatives that return people to their homes, communities and the workplace. 

West Orange-based Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation CEO Bonnie Evans said the institute works closely with the Kessler Foundation because everything it does for patients is primarily driven by research.  

“We are blessed to work with the foundation because they do the research that benefits our patients with new techniques and equipment,” said Evans. “Many of our employees work with the foundation on projects to maintain progress for people with challenges and disabilities."

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Many organizations with strong ties to the foundation supported patients and their families by hosting booths at Sunday’s event.

Jean Earle, a volunteer at the booth, “Canine Companions for Independence,” who attended the event with her daughter, Morgan, and canine companion, Hadder, said the organization was there primarily because it supports all things for special needs, but also has two facility dogs at Kessler to assist with rehabilitation.

Margie Heller, Director of Community Health & Outreach at RWJBarnabas Health, said the medical center loves being a part of the Kessler Stroll 'n Roll because it engages all aspects of the patient continuum of care, by “bringing together patients, families, friends and staff.” Sitting on the committee, Heller also said she enjoys lending a helping a hand to bringing this event together year after year.

Susan Wernick, Director of Public Relations for Bederson Accounting Firm, has also been a member of the Kessler Stroll ‘n Roll Event Committee for the past few years and said she was gratified to have close to 50 members of the Bederson family in attendance as a sponsor.

"I see first-hand the dedication of the inspirational people who make up this organization and fight to change the lives of people with disabilities,” said Wernick. “As a firm with a significant nonprofit client base, Bederson is actively involved in supporting those who work to lift others.  In support of Kessler’s mission, this year Bederson named the Stroll 'n Roll its first-annual nonprofit family event of the year.”

Gene Foley, a recovered Kessler patient who was pushed down subway stairs in New York City and cracked his head open, attributed his ability to run, bike, walk around and truly be himself to Kessler.

“I saw probably about seven different teachers there and they all helped teach me how to be me again,” said Foley, who had a long recovery that included therapy and five brain operations. "I was pretty far gone. I'm an American miracle—that's what my doctors tell me. I had 10 doctors and they all think I really pulled it off."

Rodger DeRose, CEO of the Kessler Foundation, said that the event is intended to celebrate both able-bodied individuals and individuals with disabilities. According to DeRose, the Stroll ‘n Roll not only raises funds and awareness for people with disabilities, but also brings everyone together for an end-of-summer day of fun for the whole family.

This year, the foundation reported that there was more interest than ever in the event with over 500 people of all ages and abilities taking a stroll or roll around Verona Park's picturesque lake.  Participants also enjoyed music, dance, games, crafts, prizes, magic, and refreshments. Kessler Foundation also raised over $130,000, which will go toward a variety of programs to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Fore more information and photos, visit the Kessler Foundation Facebook page or follow it on Twitter @KesslerFDN.

Sunday’s event was sponsored by Kessler Foundation, Wakefern, Gibbons, Liz & David Lowenstein, Joe Benning Photography, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, Alyce Halchak, Samantha and Ryan Schinman, Pfizer, Colonial Consulting, Saul M. Simon, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, Parker, Bard, Shoprite, Studio 1200, The Cormac Group, Bederson Accounting, Premio Food, Cushman & Wakefield, Arthur J. Gallagher, Genentech, Homewatch Care Givers, Withumsmith and Brown, Westminster Hotel, Anne & Victor Ammons, MaryAnn & Dean Janeway, Michele Pignatello & Dan Cordasco, Ellen & Rodger DeRose, Elaine & Dan Katz, Lyn & Glenn Reiter, Diane & Sam Garruto, David Legow, Susan & Guy Tufo, Ellen & John Germain and The Margetts Foundation.