Rockland County – The Helen Hayes Hospital Foundation recently hosted a Masquerade Ball at the Glenpointe Marriott in Teaneck, New Jersey. The event drew a crowd of 175 people and began with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, followed by a silent auction, gourmet dinner and award ceremony.
The Foundation’s Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Steven Benvenisti, Esq., a former patient who has written a book about his life, entitled Spring Break, which details his recovery at the physical rehabilitation hospital. Benvenisti is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Davis, Saperstein & Solomon, along with being a member of the Board of Directors of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Brain Injury Alliance.
While vacationing in Florida six weeks before college graduation, a drunk driver lost control of his car and crashed into Benvenisti while he was crossing the street. His legs were crushed and he was left in a coma for ten days. He spent six months at Helen Hayes Hospital, and underwent 15 surgeries and intense rehabilitation before fully recovering and going on to law school. After his recovery, Benvenisti made a promise that he would devote his life toward ending drunk driving and helping those dealing with brain injury.
A highlight of the award presentation was Benvenisti’s reunion with his physical therapist at the hospital, Amy McKenna, who now lives in North Carolina. He had always wanted to have the opportunity to thank her, and she in turn had always wondered about his progress.
The Foundation also honored the healthcare clinicians at Helen Hayes Hospital, past and present, for providing excellent patient care and rehabilitative therapies. The hospital staff was presented with a plaque and received a standing ovation.
Special guest performances followed the award ceremony. Roll Call Wheelchair Dance students from Nyemchek’s Dance Centre amazed the crowd with an inspiring ballroom wheelchair dance routine. Roll Call Wheelchair Dance is a non-profit organization that teaches people of all ages and abilities how to partner dance. An additional dance was performed by internationally acclaimed dancers Kiki Nyemchek and Magda Fialek. Kiki Nyemchek has been featured on the Emmy Nominated TV series Dancing with the Stars.
The Masquerade Ball raised over $50,000, which will go toward special projects and patient programs at the hospital, such as the Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program, a year round initiative that offers recreational and competitive activities for individuals of all abilities.
As one of the country’s first physical rehabilitation facilities, Helen Hayes Hospital is widely recognized as a leader in physical rehabilitation medicine and research. The hospital is operated by the New York State Department of Health and is affiliated with the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System. The Helen Hayes Hospital Foundation is a not for profit corporation and is exempt under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
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