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Celebrating the strength of the human spirit

By The Health News Team | April 29, 2019
Celebrating the strength of the human spirit

From left to right: Victories of Spirit honorees Asoka Mendis, Lupe Brents, Antony Neri, and Grant Affleck.

Rebuilding a life after a devastating illness or injury can be incredibly difficult. Each year, Sharp HealthCare honors patients who’ve not only overcome a life-altering tragedy, but who now pay it forward by giving back to others and the community.

Four San Diegans were recently recognized for their inspirational achievements at the 2019 Victories of Spirit event, organized by Sharp Rehabilitation Services and the Sharp HealthCare Foundation. Each received the Eagle Spirit Award, which symbolizes the Navajo sign of the most potent healing power — one that elicits images of soaring, conquering and excelling.

“Victories of Spirit celebrates the power of rehabilitation and strength of the human spirit, honoring former rehabilitation patients who have overcome personal tragedy with courage and strength,” says David Brown, system director of Rehabilitation Services for Sharp HealthCare. “We appreciate and honor their achievements and commitment of giving back to the community.”

Here are the 2019 Victories of Spirit Eagle Spirit Award Winners:

Grant Affleck
By age 44, Grant had severe, degenerative arthritis. Although faced with multiple surgeries and chronic pain, he was committed to achieving his fullest potential. Grant learned alternative ways to manage his pain through the Sharp Rehabilitation Pain Program. He now volunteers at Sharp HospiceCare as a compassionate listener to patients, and demonstrates kindness and gratitude every day.

Lupe Brents
Lupe had a devastating stroke in 2016. During her time at Sharp Grossmont Rehabilitation Center, she worked hard to regain her mobility and speech — and never lost sight of her goal to be independent. Lupe found renewed purpose in life through peer mentoring and sharing her story with others. Her positive spirit motivates everyone she meets.

Professor Asoka Mendis
In 2011, Asoka was diagnosed with coronary artery disease. Through medical treatment and the Sharp Cardiac Rehab Program, he improved his ability to exercise and stabilized the progression of his disease. He now advocates on behalf of the Cardiac Rehab Program and provides scholarships for cardiac patients. Asoka credits the program with stabilizing his heart disease so he can continue to enjoy travel, adventure and learning.

Antony Neri
Antony sustained a spinal cord injury in 2010. At Sharp Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center, he demonstrated his ability to overcome adversity and conquer challenges. Today, Antony continues to share his positive outlook on life with others. He works as a lead facilitator with Project A.W.A.R.E., where he teaches life skills to at-risk youth, working with dozens of students each week.

Advancing the Future of Rehabilitation
The annual Victories of Spirit celebration is sponsored by Sharp HealthCare Foundation and title sponsor United Healthcare. The event benefits Sharp Rehabilitation Services and its programs:

  • Adapted sports programs, including adapted water sports, wheelchair tennis, quad rugby and wheelchair lacrosse.

  • Women on Wheels support group, which provides volunteer and employment opportunities, education, and peer support services to women living with physical disabilities in San Diego.

  • Traumatic brain injury support programs, including services such as adapted driving assessment and training, community re-entry, peer support and mentoring programs, and neuropsychological services.

  • General rehabilitation fund, which allows Sharp Rehabilitation Services to fund programs and services as needs arise throughout the year.

Past recipients of the Eagle Spirit Award include Dani Burt, a champion adaptive surfer and physical therapist at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

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