Recognizing his leadership and tireless work to help people recovering from serious injuries and to save lives by ending distracted driving, Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia named Joel Feldman of Springfield, PA a 2013 Champion in the Community, an honor recognized by the Pennsylvania State Senate with a special message of congratulations.
“Joel clearly exemplifies everything we talk about when we think about Champions in the Community,” said Mark Chilutti, Assistant Vice President of Development at Magee Rehab Hospital in presenting the award at a Penns Landing dinner May 3rd. “I could not be more pleased, honored, and privileged to recognize my good friend Joel Feldman with our Champion in the Community Award.”
Chilutti noted Feldman’s leadership of EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving), the program Feldman and his wife, Dianne Anderson, created after their daughter, Casey, was killed by a distracted driver in 2009. With the help of experts in traffic safety, health care, and behavior, Feldman developed an interactive presentation he now brings to teenagers and adults across the country.
“Joel travels the country talking to anyone who will listen to get them to deliver this message of how things can change in an instant,” said Chilutti, referring to the EndDD.org presentation that highlights how, in just a few seconds of distracted driving lives can change and even end.
The Pennsylvania State Senate issued a special congratulation message marking what they called “richly deserved recognition.” “Through his many initiatives to benefit his community and by his personal example, Mr. Feldman clearly reflects the true spirit and mission of Magee Rehabilitation Hospital,” the special message said.
Feldman, speaking to the crowd of more than 350 guests at the 13th Annual Night of Champions award dinner, recalled his personal transformation after Casey’s death from anger and bitterness to charity and a commitment to work to save others.
“I knew it could and would get better and I needed to do something so that Casey would not be forgotten,” said Feldman, a trial lawyer whose clients have been patients at Magee over the years. “So many of my legal clients had shown me the way, from pain and hopelessness to a belief that the future holds promise.”
“The other side of trauma and suffering is the opportunity for growth, the feeling that if I can endure what I did, then I can get through anything. It’s a new inner strength, a change in life priorities, a greater sense of connection to others and the community, and of course, a greater appreciation for life,” Feldman said.
“Look around this room at what those who have suffered have accomplished and you are inspired by the loving, caring and compassionate work of the people at Magee. How could anyone not be in awe of what we are all capable of achieving when faced with incredible challenges,” Feldman said.
Feldman and his wife, Dianne, created the Casey Feldman Foundation to honor Casey’s life through support for causes reflecting her passions. EndDD.org is a project of the Casey Feldman Foundation. Feldman spoke to the motivation behind his national efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.
“Each and every one of us as parents need to be better role models for our children when it comes to distracted driving,” Feldman said. “Our children are dying at alarming rates and they are doing what they learned is okay from Mom and Dad. We should be worried that are our children are taking risks behind the wheel because of what they have seen their parents doing behind the wheel.”
By the end of During 2013, more than 200,000 young people in 40 states will have participated in the EndDD.org interactive presentation.
“Honoring me for what I do to remember Casey, honors Casey,” Feldman said in closing.
Proceeds from the award dinner benefit programs at Magee, including wheelchair sports, adjunctive therapies, the Patient Resource Center and the Gaspar Center.