Over the years, Mary Kocy has had to say, “sorry, wrong number,” to callers seeking the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitative Medicine rather than her similar-sounding construction company, Rusk Renovations. Eventually she investigated “the other Rusk” and uncovered a groundbreaking research laboratory that specializes in traumatic brain injury (TBI). But it wasn’t until Kocy spoke with the Institute and learned about its mission to raise awareness for the dangers of undiagnosed TBI injuries, especially among U.S. soldiers where statistics are alarmingly high, that her involvement deepened.
“I went from ‘so, what are you guys all about,’ to ‘how can I help,’” said Mary Kocy, CEO and Partner of Rusk Renovations. “After learning how much awareness and donations they needed, I got the idea to attempt a water ski stunt for charity.”
Kocy, 55 only began water skiing last summer but fell in love with the sport from day one. Now, and with the support of friends and business colleagues, she will attempt what she is calling One Good Turn Around Manhattan as a way to raise awareness and funding for soldiers suffering from TBI. The never-been-done-before stunt will involve circling approximately 30-miles of Manhattan’s waters on water skis.
“We’re thrilled to have Mary’s support,” said Steven Flanagan, professor and chair of rehabilitation medicine at Rusk. “Today’s battlefields are sending our military personnel home with significant head and upper extremity injuries, often resulting in cognitive impairment due to undiagnosed brain injury. These unseen injuries can be a significant barrier to a person’s ability to successfully reintegrate into their community. Getting the word out about TBI is imperative, so we support anything that helps us do that – even if it involves water skis and world records.”
Kocy and team (friends and colleagues) hope One Good Turn Around Manhattan raises significant awareness and donations for today’s veterans suffering from TBI and helps them return to a productive civilian life. Kocy set the date for her attempt for Sunday, September 18, after gaining clearance from the US Coast Guard. She then worked with NYU Medical to establish an easy way for people to donate. All donations through NYU Medical, via Kocy’s donor webpage, will be applied directly to the program and will immediately help veterans in need. All donations are fully tax deductible and secure.
Others who have signed on to support One Good Turn Around Manhattan include: HR/NY, the NYC local chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM); Kinloch Consulting; Island Water Sports in Port Jefferson Long Island, who is lending the boat and driver for the event. Others include Pamala Skillings of Skillfully Done, Jan Arrigo Fine Art Photgraphy; Louise Fili, Ltd., PitchPoint Public Relations and Rusk Renovations, Inc.
Kocy’s spouse and business partner, John Rusk, pilots the 1956 vintage training vessel that will be pulling her through history.
Kocy’s unique event will not only help raise awareness of TBI but also help fund two pilot projects that will drive initial research to differentiate TBI from post-traumatic stress disorder and then create a vocational support program for veterans participating in the project.