The Greater Boston Chapter (GBC) of United Spinal Association recently held its 2020 Virtual Fundraiser and presented the 2nd annual Elmer
Bartels Leadership Award to Jamaica Plain's Christopher Hoeh.
The GBC Honoree of the Year Award was given to Diane and Ron DeRoche of Melrose.
Since 1992, the GBC, a Woburn-based nonprofit, has provided peer mentor support and other resources to individuals and their families affected by a
life-altering spinal cord injury or disorder (SCI/D) within the Greater Boston area and beyond.
In 2019, the organization, in collaboration with Elmer Bartels' daughter, Joanne Stanway, created the Elmer Bartels Leadership Award to recognize individuals in the SCI/D community who are trailblazers that tackle barriers, work towards the greater good, and demonstrate leadership skills.
The award is named in honor of the late Elmer Bartels who served as the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission for more than 30 years. Bartels was injured in 1960 and lived a fulfilling life with quadriplegia. He was a leader in advocating for disability rights including the ADA and encouraging businesses to improve job opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
The GBC selected Chris Hoeh to receive this award because of his dedication and passion for advocacy work within the Boston area disability community. In 2017, Hoeh broke his neck in a skiing accident. Despite his injury, Hoeh is passionate and committed to education, advocacy, and human rights.
The GBC Honoree of the Year Award has been presented for over twenty years. The award recognizes individuals for their outstanding contributions to the Chapter and the local SCI/D community. This year, the GBC honored Diane and Ron DeRoche for their exceptional work in creating and leading the Chapter’s family support program.
A spinal cord injury affects more than just the individual who is injured. Parents, siblings, significant others, friends and other loved ones feel the impact of this life-altering injury. Their own experiences after their son sustained an spinal cord injury in 2011, led the DeRoches to realize
the need to help family members cope with the extraordinary changes a family must make when their loved one sustains an injury. As a result, they created the Chapter’s family support group in 2014 and have also met individually with countless family members to provide support and resources. Their contributions have resulted in over a half dozen family members to begin volunteering with the Chapter to give back to others. The family support programming has also expanded to include other support groups for significant others and children.