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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Casa Colina’s Tribute to Courage gala honors first responders

Prominent figures from healthcare, government, and business turned up to celebrate Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare at its annual Tribute to Courage Gala March 9 at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel in Pomona.

Casa Colina honored three first responders: Tyler Blondi, Ira Douglas, and Trevor Stevenson. Severely injured in the line of duty, each faced major recovery challenges but ultimately prevailed through Casa Colina’s continuum of care and strong family support.

Actor, writer, and director Bonnie Hunt hosted the event. A longtime Casa Colina supporter and former oncology nurse, Ms. Hunt spoke about the determination, family support, and clinical expertise that helped each honoree recover from traumatic brain injury.

After a DUI driver hit his motorcycle, Pomona police officer Trevor Stevenson came to Casa Colina unable to walk, with severe injuries, including traumatic brain injury. With aggressive daily therapy and family support, Mr. Stevenson has since returned to full duty with the Pomona Police Department. He credited Casa Colina physicians and therapists with his recovery.

In April 2012, while heading to an emergency call, the ambulance Ira Douglas was driving was broadsided by a garbage truck. Mr. Douglas was found unconscious requiring extrication from the vehicle. He spoke emotionally about the challenges of his resulting traumatic brain injury and spinal stenosis. With a lengthy rehabilitation at Casa Colina, Mr. Douglas has since returned to full duty as a firefighter-paramedic.

Veteran Beverly Hills Police Officer Tyler Blondi suffered several serious injuries over his career, including multiple ACL tears and severe head trauma that resulted in a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury. Mr. Blondi spoke of finding the help he needed at Casa Colina, which he said allowed him to resume a healthy life. After medical discharge from his patrol job, he is forging a new career as a college instructor and still maintains professional ties to law enforcement administrating polygraphs.

More than 900 attendees were on hand to learn about these patient outcomes from Casa Colina’s Continuum of Care, which includes acute rehabilitation, medical-surgical services, transitional living, outpatient services, children’s services, and more.

“Behind these success stories is an intricate network of caregivers and public servants that our patients count on in their most vulnerable moments,” said Felice Loverso, Casa Colina president and CEO.

This year’s gala raised $657,000 toward free and subsidized care for under-resourced patients and, in some cases, temporary housing for families to be near loved ones during rehabilitation.

To donate to the Casa Colina Foundation, visit casacolina.org or email foundation@casacolina.org or (909) 596-7733, extension 2222.

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