Denisha Roberts: A health care hero

Denisha Roberts, right, works with Grace Randazzo during a recent physical therapy session.

The Central Penn Business Journal recently named more than 30 leaders and organizations as finalists in their 2020 Healthcare Heroes awards, and Schreiber Physical Therapist Denisha Roberts was recognized in the category Therapeutic Care Hero. Here is a testimonial letter from Schreiber parent Jackie Randazzo, whose daughter Grace has been in Denisha’s care since Grace was 2.

Our daughter, Grace, was born in Korea with cerebral palsy. Grace came home to us in 2004 when she was 11 months old. We knew we were adopting a “waiting child,” but we really did not know much about cerebral palsy and what Grace’s disability would mean for her or for us as a family. We received a referral to Schreiber Pediatric and began our journey with Early Intervention and Schreiber. Grace had a few therapists early on and when she was a toddler, then we met Denisha Roberts. We immediately made a connection with Denisha, and she became a strong source of support and a wealth of knowledge.

At first, Denisha came to our home for physical therapy, helping us learn how to adapt our home and support Grace within the home environment. We worked with her to learn what Grace needed to grow to her full potential. Denisha taught us, and helped me personally remember to stand back and let Grace do things for herself. She has helped me learn to empower my child and was not afraid to have the difficult conversations needed to help me do “my work” so Grace could do her work. Denisha always had a way of keeping me hopeful and accountable for our family and for our child.

I have learned so much from Denisha over the years, and we have become a team that is constantly learning to unravel the mystery of Grace and what she needs and, most importantly, how to motivate her.

Denisha was always willing to go above and beyond.

When Grace started horseback riding lessons Denisha was happy to come to the barn to help us learn how to help Grace with riding. On another occasion, Denisha took us to a ball pit so Grace could practice falling and building her protective responses. Over the years, she has gone to amusement parks with us to help Grace have a fun and safe experience. We visited countless playgrounds so Grace could learn to navigate with the other children.

Denisha Roberts is a kind and loving person who is totally dedicated to her work and to helping children. She is completely invested in the families in her care. Denisha is a mother of four, a board member of Brittany’s Hope and a host family for foreign exchange students. I remember a time that Marietta had experienced some flooding, and Denisha called to see if we or any neighbors needed help moving furniture upstairs. She and her four children came to help neighbors. That is just the kind of person she is.

Denisha has become more than a physical therapist to Grace. She has become a part of the family and a trusted friend. When you have a child with special needs it can at times feel lonely and overwhelming. I always knew I had Denisha to help us, and that support has been priceless. She has truly been priceless lifeline and friend for us after all these years. Grace is now 16, and we have known Denisha for more than of 14 years.

We feel truly blessed to know Denisha Roberts.

Jackie Randazzo and her husband Martin live in Marietta.