Fran Rooker, founder of Brain Injury Services of SWVA, has received commendation from the Virginia General Assembly for her volunteer efforts which changed the quality of health care in Southwest Virginia. Two Joint Resolutions recognized Rooker as one of only three statewide recipients of the national Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leader award in the program’s twenty-year history.
After the 1997 death of their son, Jason, Rooker and her husband, Greg, a former community newspaper owner and publisher, founded The Jason Foundation in 1998 and Brain Injury Services of SWVA in 2000. The latter organization now provides direct services throughout an 11,000 square mile region of the Commonwealth, assisting people with brain injury and their families in rebuilding their lives. Additionally, it provides regional brain injury support for the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program.
Rooker’s initiation of a collaboration between Virginia Tech Department of Assistive Technology, Radford University, and Brain Injury Services of SWVA resulted in the development of the telehealth program (CLiC) Community Living Connection (“Creating Connections” Roanoke Times: December 18, 2011). The innovative project provides post-acute brain injury supports, and creates a learning community for brain injury survivors living in rural areas. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation award provided major funding for its development.
Senator Phillip Puckett and Delegate Joseph Yost presented Rooker’s commendation last Friday during a Brain Injury Awareness Month luncheon in Wytheville. Co-patrons of Senate Joint Resolution No. 469 were Senator Puckett and Senator John Edwards. A separate House Joint Resolution initiated by former Delegates Dave Nutter and Jim Shuler, and Senator Ralph Smith, was patroned by Delegate Yost.