Casey Feldman, a 2006 graduate of Springfield High School, loved animals, especially dogs. She understood how a dog’s unconditional love could make a difference in the lives of people. Casey also valued service-reaching out to help others. Unfortunately, her life was cut short when she was killed three years ago by a distracted driver when crossing a street in Ocean City, N.J. while on her way to a summer job. She was 21 years old and a senior at Fordham University.
Continuing the tradition of performing service on the anniversary of Casey’s death, on July 17 th, about forty of Casey’s friends and family gathered at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia and performed clean up services and work in the greenhouse and gardens, and learned about the latest gift from the Casey Feldman Foundation.
Magee showed off the talents of the newest member of its renowned occupational therapy team, Ford. Ford is an 8 year old Golden Retriever who is a highly trained facility therapy dog, the first in Magee’s history. Support for Ford was provided by the Casey Feldman Foundation.
Ford will work with patients recovering from strokes, spinal cord and brain injuries and amputations. Ford helps in all aspects of occupational therapy, including subtly increasing patient’s motivation to work a little harder despite pain. Among an incredible amount of tasks that Ford can perform are taking a patients’ socks off, picking up and delivering to the patient all kinds of objects, including shoes, opening and closing cabinets, pulling wheelchairs , turning on and off lights and providing much-needed reassurance and stability for patients attempting their first steps.
“We are incredibly grateful and sincerely honored that the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation chose to remember Casey through the support of this innovative program,” said Jack Carroll, President and CEO of Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. “Animal-assisted therapy is yet another way we can provide our patients with the highest quality care to help them achieve their goals and improve their outcomes, and is something we could not have done without the Foundation’s generous support.”
During a lunch time ceremony the occupational therapists who work with Ford, Cate Dorr and Christine Rineheimer, described Ford’s integral role in occupational therapy and said that they were already seeing measurable improvements in patient’s progress who were working with Ford. Some of the patients who had worked with Ford described his gentle and loving presence and said it was comforting to have Ford with them as they began to adapt to new lives following life-altering illnesses and injuries.
Casey’s father, Joel Feldman, said “Magee is a special place where those who have devastating injuries begin to learn that there is a way forward and that there is hope. Having friends and family with us, Ford, and all the other loving and supportive staff at Magee is a perfect way to remember Casey.”