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Future Faschini Wallach Center for Restorative Therapies

by Erica Howell

Love is palpable in any room that contains Cynthia Faschini and Andy Wallach. At an event celebrating the future Faschini Wallach Center for Restorative Therapies, Dr. Bonnie Van Lunen, dean of the college of health sciences, joked, "There's no kiss cam here!"

In December 2019, Andy and Cynthia were in an accident that left Cynthia with a broken leg and Andy with a broken leg and spinal cord injury. Dr. Van Lunen spoke about how Andy and Cynthia thought of others as they went through Andy's recovery. "Andy and Cynthia's kindness and generosity inspires not just me but the entire College of Health Sciences," she said.

With humble beginnings, the Monarch Physical Therapy Clinic is a hidden gem. It started out in 2014 with a half a position for a physical therapist who also was teaching in the program and directing the clinic. It was low budget with some rubber bands, balls, and a few barbells and dumbbells. Just eight years later, the clinic has over 20 therapists that are offering physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and high-tech equipment for these therapists to use.

"We continued to grow through the pandemic and serve our students," said Dr. Lisa Koperna, director of the Monarch Physical Therapy clinic. She turned to Andy and Cynthia, "But what we're going to be able to do with the gift you all gave is at a completely a new level."

In 2023, the clinic will move to the new health sciences building on the corner of Monarch Way and 41st Street and will become the Faschini Wallach Center for Restorative Therapies. To better serve patients and the community, the center will include a large therapy gym, a pediatric treatment area, a community reintegration room, an activities of daily living apartment, 11 treatment rooms and a therapeutic garden, expanding from 6,000 to 11,000 square feet.

"The space is going to be amazing. The absolute quality of care is going to be amazing," said Dr. Koperna, before turning to Andy and Cynthia again. "What's really amazing to me is that more than two years after your injury, you are continuing to get better and better and better."

People with spinal cord injuries typically make the most progress soon after their injury. Since last July when Andy and Cynthia's story first came out, Andy has become stronger, the dexterity in his hands is better, his balance has improved, his ability to stand up has greatly improved and he is able to use a walker. He has physical and occupational therapies twice per week, rather than the three times a week he was doing a year ago. In addition, he does weight training at the ODU Recreation Center twice per week. With Cynthia's assistance he also exercises his legs, core and arms every morning, and spends time on a recumbent bike.

"The staff infuses me with a desire to succeed," Andy said of the staff. He and Cynthia both praised Dr. Koperna's energy and enthusiasm. During his remarks, Andy compared her to a mother hen saying, "She's probably sitting behind me right now making sure I don't fall." She was perched on the edge of a chair right behind Andy as he stood at the podium - something he would not have been able to do a year ago.

Jalina Gallagher '20 '22 has been involved in the clinic in every way imaginable from a patient to a volunteer to a physical therapy student. "I've been in PT since I was two, so when I say to you PT is my life, it's not an exaggeration."

Jalina has seen many doctors and specialists throughout her 23 years of life and concluded there is something special about the Monarch Physical Therapy Clinic. "We learn in our program to treat patients as a whole. With this donation, they'll be about to do this on a whole other level. To see the clinic evolve from where it began I am thankful for all this donation will bring."

Part of Andy and Cynthia's vision for the center is to include mental health treatments, such as support groups. "The primary determinant of success resides in one's mind. Without a positive attitude and drive you will not succeed," Andy said. "The sharing of failures, and successes enables each member to benefit from each other's experiences. The ODU Community has experts in all facets of health. These experts can guide group discussions in their specialty."

Rehabilitation is a bio-psycho-social recovery, and support for the center will allow ODU to provide that recovery to the community, even those who are under-insured or without insurance.

Dr. Van Lunen said, "Through their philanthropic giving, they have inspired other donors to support the future Faschini Wallach Center for Restorative Therapies." Individual donors have made gifts to support the Center for Restorative Therapies Endowment Fund and just this month, Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters Health System has agreed to name the Pediatric Treatment Area in the clinic.

"What we have here today is an amazing opportunity to create a restorative center where people from all walks of life can come and you can give them that - something that they lost," said Cynthia. The way Cynthia speaks about giving is as if it's second nature to her. "Carpe diem. What better way than to give so others can also enjoy life?"

To join Andy and Cynthia in supporting the Faschini Wallach Center for Restorative Therapies and make your gift today, please click here to give online. If you would like to make your gift by check, please make it out to ODU Education Foundation (including Center for Restorative Therapies in the memo line) and mail it to ODU Education Foundation, 4417 Monarch Way, 4th Floor, Norfolk, VA 23529.

For any questions or for additional information, please contact Manisha Sharma at m1sharma@odu.edu or 757-683-4313.

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