In 1997, David Lulenski was 18 years old and ready to start his sophomore year at the University of Arizona when he was involved in a car accident that nearly cost him his life. He was thrown more than 40 feet from a Jeep and hit the side of a house, head-first. After spending nearly three weeks in an Arizona hospital, he was transferred to Mary Free Bed for rehabilitation.
“The hospital in Arizona saved my life,” David said. “It was the choice to rehab at Mary Free Bed that gave me the chance to live a successful and independent life.”
He graduated from Mary Free Bed following two-and-a-half months of intense rehabilitation for his traumatic brain injury. A few years later, David graduated with distinction from the University of Michigan – Dearborn with a bachelor’s degree in Economics.
His father, Gary, a retired physician, celebrated his son’s graduation and recovery by working with Mary Free Bed to create the Lulenski Residency in Neurological Physical Therapy. This marks the program’s 14th year, thanks to the generous annual donation from the Lulenski family. The 15th resident will begin in October.
The 12-month residency is a collaboration between Mary Free Bed and Grand Valley State University. Residents spend 6 months in clinical care and six months conducting research. The program, which is open to candidates nationwide, is working toward American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) credentialing.
For the past 6 years, David has worked as an account clerk in the Berrien County Friend of the Court office and lives independently. He serves on the committee that selects residents for the program.
“I go through ups and downs like any other person in life and every day strive to be a better person, knowing I was indeed given a second chance,” he said. “Mary Free Bed offers hope … survivors, family and friends will be indebted to this hospital forever.”