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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Madonna Foundation recognizes vision and innovation

June 12, 2017

Tony Acone (left) and Lawrence Chatters (right) pose for a photo at a May donor appreciation event with the Madonna Foundation.

At a May donor appreciation event, the Madonna Foundation recognized friends of Madonna who have made an impact at the hospital through their leadership and giving.

Tony Acone, past chair of the Madonna Foundation Board of Directors, received the Madonna Vision Award. The award was established in 2000 to honor an individual or couple who challenges, leads and elevates Madonna to greater heights to assure a brighter future for children and adults with disabilities.

Tony Acone is a member of the board of directors of the Daniels Fund, a charitable organization in Denver, Colorado. Tony's leadership in connecting Madonna to the Daniels Fund allowed Madonna to compete successfully for an equipment grant that ultimately paved the way for the creation of the ICARE. This piece of rehabilitation technology, developed at Madonna, is located in 36 hospitals and rehabilitation facilities throughout the United States and Canada as well as in Australia and South America.

Tony's subsequent support and encouragement allowed Madonna to launch the First Hope Initiative, work that is dramatically impacting the quality of life for individuals with severe disabilities.

Past recipients include: Jim Abel, Dr. Robert Buchman, Dan Hergert, Jr., Brad Korell, Sen. Ben Nelson, Anne Kinder Porter, Dan and Judi Scully and David Sundberg.

Madonna presented the Innovation Award to the Goldwin Foundation for merging knowledge with imagination to improve the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities. Lawrence Chatters, executive director of the Goldwin Foundation, accepted the award.

The Goldwin Foundation was founded in 2013 by a group of individuals committed to enhancing and enriching the lives of children who suffer from serious medical conditions and diseases through improvements in medical technology, access and treatment. 

Among the equipment purchases that the Goldwin Foundation has funded for Madonna is a 3-D printer. According to Judith Burnfield, Ph.D., Director of the Institute of Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, the 3-D printer has been a real game-changer for Madonna.

“Having a printer on-site at Madonna has made all the difference for our rehab engineering staff as they work with Madonna clinicians to problem-solve ways to adapt equipment to patients' needs, control their environment, overcome barriers and ultimately, bring greater quality of life to the children and adults we serve,” Burnfield explained.

Previous Innovation Award recipients include Dick Chapin and Burnfield. 

Madonna donor Marilyn Story is a retired nurse who appreciates the need for a talented nursing staff. She believes strongly in the power of education to help people help themselves. Marilyn and her sister, Charlene Hammer, established the R.F. and Margaret O. Mullin Endowed Education Fund in honor of their parents to provide nursing scholarships to Madonna employees. During their father’s stay as a patient at Madonna, the family witnessed first-hand the high quality of care made possible by his dedicated team. 

This year, Madonna awarded Mullin nursing scholarships to Amanda Harvey and Jeanette Ulmer who are both working on their Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Nebraska Methodist College; Markie Novotny who is earning a Master of Science in Nursing at Clarkson College; and Ceanna Schroeder who is close to completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Bryan College of Health Sciences. 

Madonna donors and employees, Vikki Harsh and Ian Thompson, established the Betty Sweinimer scholarship four years ago. Betty was Vikki’s mom and Ian’s grandmother. Vikki works in Madonna’s coffee shop where her breakfast burritos are legendary and Ian works part-time at ProActive and is an instructor in the physical therapy assistant program at Southeast Community College. Several years ago, Ian came to the Foundation with an idea to create a scholarship in his grandmother’s name to honor her belief in him as he began his post-high school studies.

This year’s Betty Sweinimer scholarship recipient was Kylie Mickels. Kylie has been employed at Madonna for three years and has worked mainly with patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries in our Acute Rehab area in Lincoln. She is currently attending Southeast Community College and is halfway through the Associate Degree Nursing Program. She will graduate in March of 2018.