A professional firefighter who rode bulls for charity. A former glassblower with an ear for music. A young man with surprising comedic skills. The three recipients of this year’s Omaha Campus GOAL Awards could not have come from different backgrounds, but cheered loudly for one another as they joined an elite group of honorees of this coveted recognition.
The GOAL Awards were established on Madonna’s Lincoln Campus 25 years ago as a way to recognize exceptional strength, determination and positivity qs patients inspired their fellow patients and clinical teams. This year’s Omaha recipients will have their photos and stories displayed on the wall in honor, sharing their triumph over serious illness or injury with all who walk by.
Tom Bartek is an Omaha Firefighter who pursued another adrenaline-filled activity on his days away from Station 31. He jumped on the back of a bull called Hells Bells and the two collided, resulting in a serious brain injury that made simple tasks like tying a shoelace difficult. After being admitted to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Tom hit the ground running, working hard to return to his supportive family and career. In his speech after accepting his GOAL award, Tom remained humble, paying tribute to several other patients who inspired his journey as well as the other recipients. “Everything I do on a daily basis is thanks to the awesome people who helped me out immensely just to do simple things you take for granted,” Tom said.
Benjamin Ryan and his family faced the unthinkable when at just 10 years old, he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor growing at the base of his skull called medulloblastoma. Rushed into surgery just hours later, Ben’s surgeons were successful in removing the tumor, but due to its size, he developed a condition called Posterior Fossa Syndrome that robbed him of much of his mobility. Benjamin and his family turned to Madonna to get his movement back. Working hard and remaining positive and friendly despite his struggle, Benjamin began to regain strength and rejoined his classmates at Omaha’s Saint Vincent de Paul elementary school. The young man had the crowd in stitches as he cracked jokes during his acceptance speech. His gratitude for his Madonna team shone through. “There are a lot of people holding your hand and over time you’re going to be able to let those hands go. But they’re ready to catch you when you fall. They’re ready to help you along the way,” Benjamin said.
Levi Weber considers himself lucky to be alive, let alone to walk tall as he received his much-deserved award. After a gruesome motorcycle crash left him with a brain injury that resulted in several strokes, the young man spent over a month in an acute care hospital before being transferred to Madonna Rehabilitation Specialty Hospital – Lincoln. Medical setbacks made recovery difficult, but Levi persevered and was transferred to Madonna’s Omaha Campus to continue the hard work of rehabilitation. Levi’s team was inspired by his unique hobbies like glass blowing and incorporated his love of guitar into therapy sessions. He returned to play for his staff months after leaving Madonna and many of them became emotional as they saw how well he was doing when he returned for GOAL awards.
We congratulate all of this year’s recipients and are honored that thousands of patients from across the country choose Madonna to help them rebuild their lives