Robert Demichelis II

Received award for brain injury advocacy

Nineteen years ago, Robert Demichelis II was driving home with a friend after visiting their alma mater, Northern Illinois University, when he ran into a guardrail. "I don't remember any screech, any crash at all," Demichelis said of the accident. The friend suffered a broken jaw. Demichelis slipped into a coma after a severe head injury.

Now a volunteer with the Brain Injury Association, the Reston resident recently received the Alan Mayer Award, which is given to an individual who has displayed a consistent willingness to promote recognition of the needs of brain injury survivors and their families.

After the accident, Demichelis moved to Fairfax County to live with his parents. In the mid-1980s, after months spent in speech, occupational and physical therapy, he was well enough to start volunteering as a legislative advocate at the Alexandria-based association. The group's mission is to advocate for better care and services for brain injury patients and to offer information and help to their families.

Demichelis, 43, takes the Metro to work each day and puts in 60-hour weeks researching the latest in brain injury rehabilitation, monitoring legislative issues, developing position papers and generally advocating for the brain injured. He also answers hundreds of e-mails each week from people who have a variety of questions.

"The part of my job that is most important is communication," said Demichelis, who worked as an auditor before his accident. "Information dissemination is critical."

Recovering from his injury was like a "rebirthing process," he said. He relearned how to walk, talk, dress and eat. Although he leads an active life, performing in a local dance company called Rhythms of Hope, Demichelis is not fully recovered. "Recovery is lifelong," he said. "Speech is particularly a problem for me."

Demichelis said he enjoys his work with the Brain Injury Association, where his mother also volunteers. "The most rewarding part is meeting other people and developing friendships and seeing change," he said.

Fran Redmon

To receive arts advocate award

Fran Redmon of Alexandria has been named the recipient of the Alexandria Arts Safari Arts Advocate Extraordinaire Award. The award honors people who have shown extraordinary dedication in support of the arts. Redmon recently was appointed to a five-year term on the Virginia Commission for the Arts and has served on the boards of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, Wolf Trap Associates and Friends of the Torpedo Factory.

Dorothy Bainter

Received nursing award

Dorothy Bainter, of Alexandria, director of nursing at Mount Vernon Nursing Home in Alexandria, has been named 1999 Director of Nursing of the Year by the Virginia Health Care Association. She was selected by a panel of peers for the honor.

Nicholas R. Beltrante

Honored for investigative work

Nicholas R. Beltrante of Alexandria was named one of the best 25 private investigators in the country by the National Association of Investigative Specialists. His firm, Beltrante and Associates, operates in Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington. A retired Washington metropolitan police detective sergeant, Beltrante has worked on more than 10,000 cases since opening his firm in 1963.

Alexandria Red Cross

Hands out two community awards

Harvey Boltwood and Venor A. Biggs, Jr., both of Alexandria, were honored by the Alexandria Chapter of the American Red Cross last month. Boltwood, vice president of F&M Bank, received the Elizabeth E. Smith Award. The award recognizes an individual who exemplifies dedication and service to others.

The Miguel Longo Award went to Biggs, a T.C. Williams High School student. This award is presented to a young person who possesses great leadership qualities, a positive attitude and a commitment to the Alexandria Red Cross community.

Marissa A. Freeman

Selected as finalist in scholarship program

Marissa A. Freeman, of Kingstowne, has been selected as a finalist in the 1999 Pre-Teen Virginia Scholarship and Recognition Program. This is a invitation-only event based on academic records, volunteering, school involvement and leadership abilities. Marissa is a fourth-grader at Anthony T. Lane Elementary School in Alexandria.

Philip A. Odeen

Chosen for defense industry award

Philip A. Odeen, of McLean, has been selected by the Association of the United States Army to receive the 1999 John W. Dixon Award for his outstanding contributions to America's defense. Odeen is executive vice president and general manager of TRW Systems & Information Technology Group, a global automotive, aerospace and information technology company with headquarters in Reston.

Amy Bender

Awarded a Fulbright grant

Amy Bender, of Reston, has been awarded a Fulbright grant to conduct research in Madrid. Bender is one of about 2,000 Fulbright scholars for the 1999/2000 academic year. The program is designed to increase understanding between the United States and other countries.

Bradford Ableson

Received leadership award from seminary

Bradford Ableson, of Springfield, has received the first George and Sally Telford Award at Columbia Theological Seminary. The award is granted to a doctor of ministry student who shows exceptional ability for congregational leadership with an emphasis on social justice and vision for the church. Ableson, a Navy chaplain, also received the Florrie Wilkes Sanders Prize in Theology, given to the student whose paper contains the best theological scholarship and is relevant to the needs of Christian people.

Two Virginia teachers honored

Award is for first-year teaching

Charles Thomas Leighton Jr., of Oakton, and Soo-Jung Kim, of Centreville, were among 52 first-year teachers from across the country who received the 1999 Sallie Mae First Class Teacher Award. Now in its 15th year, the award honors exemplary first-year teachers in each of the 50 states and Washington as well as in U.S. territories.

Leighton teaches at Jefferson Junior High School in Washington. Kim teaches at Washington Irving Middle School in Springfield.


Warehouse Journal '98: Art Mail, the annual showcase of student artwork at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College, was named a finalist in the 1999 American Graphic Design Awards competition. The national contest was sponsored by Graphic Design USA.

The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities will honor the Office of Historic Alexandria during its 25th anniversary awards dinner next month. The office is being recognized for promoting the humanities, including activities for Alexandria's 250th anniversary celebration.

CAPTION: Alan Mayer Award winner Robert Demichelis II volunteers at the Brain Injury Association in Alexandria.