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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Rehabilitation associate bonds with patient over fun accessories

January 18, 2021

Donny Schaaf is a walking canvas of color entering the Lincoln Campus therapy gym. His tie-dyed knee socks and bright T-shirt reflects his upbeat personality.

 “I may dress like a dork, but if I can positively impact one person, it makes my day,” Donny said.

Behind his outgoing demeanor and colorful outfits is a 45-year-old survivor.

In 1995, a drunk driver slammed into Donny’s new car and sent his world spiraling downward.

After years of fighting tremors and muscular issues, Donny was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Severe depression set in as he lost his job and identity.

Referred to Madonna’s TherapyPlus outpatient program in 2016, Donny was near suicidal.

Physical and occupational therapy helped restore his coordination and mobility. Confiding personal struggles with a counselor armed Donny with coping mechanisms for daily living.

“Madonna saved my life – Kim [Grabouski], Daina [Podraza] and Danielle [Lawrence] are my heroes.”

Now Donny is paying it forward for other patients sharing his humor and colorful outfits during therapies. “So many people in that gym are worse off than I am.”

He usually adds a ball cap to his festive attire, but after deep brain stimulation surgery to address his tremors, Donny’s head is ultra-sensitive.

Recently, he struck up a conversation with Kasie Asche, rehabilitation associate, about her trademark headbands. Donny wrote to JUNK, the Arkansas-based company, explaining his situation and they generously donated five performance-quality headbands to round out his outfits.

 “Parkinson’s has impacted my smile, but not my spirit.”

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