Harold Gainer and Bob Race were a couple of retired cops with a soft spot for kids.
And, boy, did that soft spot make a difference in the lives of Schreiber kids.
Harold and Bob were two of the most dedicated volunteers for Schreiber’s Softball Weekend. The event returns June 4-6 for its 39th year, and it will be first since the two old friends passed away in September of 2020.
In their honor, the tournament portion of Softball Weekend has been renamed the Gainer-Race Memorial Tournament.
Denise Race, Bob’s widow, said he would be humbled.
“He’d say, ‘I don’t deserve this,” Denise said. “But I think he does. He did such a wonderful job for so many years. He and Harold both.”
Their work on Softball Weekend goes back a long way, to 1982. Harold started first. He was a young officer with the East Hempfield Police Department and the Financial Secretary with the Red Rose Lodge #16, Fraternal Order of Police.
“The lodge wanted to get involved in the community, and we chose Easter Seals (as Schreiber was formerly known) because it was the adopted charity of the (national) FOP,” Harold recalled in a 2015 interview. “We got together and kicked around ideas such as the festivals and dunk tanks and came up with the softball marathon idea. That first year we hoped to raise $5,000, but we ended up raising $17,500 — and we didn’t know what we were doing!”
Bob came on board a few years later. Both of them stayed all in until 2019, when health issues started taking their toll.
Thanks to their leadership and the continued involvement of the FOP, the event has raised around $2 million for Schreiber. It is the longest-running fundraising event that Schreiber does.
“Chiefy loved children,” Denise Race said, calling her late husband by her nickname for him. He was a retired chief from Pequea Township Police Department. “He would do anything for any child.”
That’s something the two men had in common.
“He loved reaching out to kids,” said Harold’s widow, Bobbie Gainer. “I think if I had to list his top three qualities, I’d say: caring, compassion and commitment. Harold had all three of those qualities wrapped up in a special place in his heart for Schreiber.”
Both men would look forward to softball, always the first weekend of June. They would be all in for the whole weekend, sleeping in cars and staying at the Stauffer Park and later Lancaster County Park or Froelich Park for 48 hours straight.
“He loved being part of it,” Bobbie said. “He loved the teams, being with the people. He loved seeing the kids there, too. He was proud of the FOP and the job they were doing.”
Bobbie and Denise and their families will be present at Froelich Park this year to help mark the start of another Softball Weekend and to remember the two men who played such an important part of it for so long.
“I can just imagine seeing Harold and Chiefy up in heaven having one heck of a good time,” Denise said.
Zoey and some of her preschool friends play in a sandbox in a photo from 2019. Zoey has learned many different skills at Schreiber as she and her family deal with her diagnosis of Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.
Deanna Adair has been a Schreiber physical therapist for five years. Her daughter Zoey attended Schreiber’s S.T.A.R.S. preschool and Circle of Friends Academy and is now in kindergarten. Zoey also receives therapy services. She has Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder affecting mostly girls. Individuals with Rett appear to develop normally until 6-18 months of age, after which they go through a regression and lose acquired skills. Zoey was diagnosed at 21 months of age. She began to display gross motor and language delays by 9-10 months of age, and began to lose her fine motor skills around 18 months.
Zoey, who will turn 7 in July, is unable to walk independently or talk, and has lost the ability to use her hands functionally or chew food. She communicates using an Eyegaze device and a yes/no board. She eats pureed foods and drinks thickened liquids, and has a feeding tube for supplemental hydration.
She also has scoliosis and obstructive sleep apnea, for which she uses a BIPAP machine. Rett Syndrome is not a degenerative disorder (brain cells are intact), and has been shown to be reversible in a lab setting, indicating that it may be curable in humans.
Deanna recently wrote a Facebook post to mark the fifth anniversary of Zoey’s diagnosis. She agreed to share it here.
I can’t believe it’s been five years since we received Zoey’s Rett Syndrome diagnosis. It was Friday the 13th. I was on my way from my old job to pick her up from day care at Schreiber and answered the phone call as I was getting on the highway. I thought they were going to tell me that further testing was needed, because they only agreed to test for Rett “for peace of mind,” since I asked, but that’s not how it went. They gave us an appointment at the CHOP Rett clinic three days later and told me not to look it up on the internet. Guess what I spent the entire weekend doing?! After two days on the couch, I had to pick myself up and do what needed to be done for our girl. After all, she was the same sweet, beautiful little girl she had been before the diagnosis.
We have learned a lot since that day, and we are determined to give her the best life possible and find ways for her to learn and experience as much as she can. She is such a sweetheart, has a sense of humor, is smart, works hard, and is just a happy girl. Life has not been easy, and we have our tough times, but she is worth it!
Lately, we have been working on things like a special needs trust for her future, which can be overwhelming to think about, and the older she gets without there being a treatment or cure, the harder it is, too. But our girl has had an amazing year in kindergarten, having fun and learning to read and write using eye gaze, and we are so proud of her!
Anicia Anderson can trace her interest in a speech-language pathology career to hearing a guest speaker during a high school health class. She was in 10th grade at North Haven High School, a public high school in North Haven, Conn.
The speaker was looking for volunteers to come and work in a group home for older adults with autism. Anicia said she thought it sounded interesting, and she needed the community service hours, so she went.
“That was my first experience with people that were non-verbal,” said Anicia, thoughtful and gracious with her time during a recent phone interview. “That kind of geared my passion to wanting to work with people that have communication challenges.”
That first psychic nudge started her on a path toward a career she knew nothing about as a 15-year-old in the little town of North Haven (population about 25,000), a northern suburb of New Haven, home of Yale University.
Anicia received her bachelor’s degree from Penn State this spring and will begin pursuing a master’s degree there in speech-language pathology. She is the first recipient of the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development Educational Equity Graduate Scholarship. The scholarship comes from a new fund established by Schreiber and Penn State to address the lack of diversity in the field of speech therapy.
“There’s not a lot of diversity in the field of speech-language pathology,” Anicia said. “Clinicians see clients from all different backgrounds and races and cultures. Inclusion is important: having a diverse clientele, having more diverse students entering the field, having more diversity among clinicians. I look forward to helping to make that change.”
Anicia didn’t know much about the scholarship or Schreiber before she was admitted into the grad program. “I’m in a diversity recruitment group, and I heard the name, but I didn’t really know what it was about.”
That soon changed. Dr. Diane Williams is a professor and department head in the Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders, where Anicia will continue her speech therapy studies. She approached Anicia about the scholarship.
“We chose Anicia because of her academic achievements,” Dr. Williams wrote in an email, “her strong letters of recommendation, her interest in working with children with complex communication needs like those served by the Schreiber Center, and because of her efforts around issues of diversity and inclusion.”
Dr. Williams joined a recent Schreiber board meeting to announce the first scholarship award. In her remarks, she thanked Schreiber’s leadership for its willingness to take a strong stand on increasing diversity, and for their good timing.
“When James (DeBord) reached out to us last year, the timing was just right,” Dr. Williams said. “My department had come together to make a commitment to work to increase diversity in the field of speech-language pathology. James’ offer to raise funds for a scholarship to support a student in speech-language pathology from a diverse background was such a generous one. We saw it as not only an opportunity to help us increase the diversity in our graduate program and our field but also as an opportunity to form a stronger relationship with the Schreiber Center, a program with an incredible history of service to the community.”
DeBord, Schreiber’s president, said he was excited to hear that Penn State had found such an outstanding student to be the first Schreiber scholarship recipient. And, he added, this is just the beginning.
“My hope is that Anicia is the first in a long line of scholars and future speech-language pathologists who will change countless lives for the better,” James said. “And that they will better reflect the communities in which they serve. The plan now is that this continues every two years, in perpetuity. She will be the first in this pantheon of these distinguished scholars.”
Anicia comes from a town where fewer than 5 percent of the population is black. She said she was one of the few black students at her high school.
Pursuing a career in speech therapy, in which around 95 percent of therapists are white, might seem intimidating for some students of color. Anicia was unfazed.
“Since I went to a school that didn’t have a lot of diversity, it’s something that I’m used to,” Anicia said. “Increasing diversity is important; it can help to open people’s minds.”
Donate to the scholarship fund
Schreiber has raised about half of the $275,000 needed to fulfill its pledge to create the $550,000 scholarship fund. To make a donation and help Schreiber continue the work of making the field of speech-language pathology more diverse, visit the Penn State Scholarship Fund page here.
The idea started from chat between two Schreiber S.T.A.R.S. Preschool moms. Jennel Roberts and Michelle Miller are both independent consultants for Usborne Books and More, a company that distributes a wide array of books, including children’s books.
Michelle Miller, left, and Jennel Roberts recently visited Schreiber with their S.T.A.R.S. preschoolers to deliver $780 in donated Usborne books to Schreiber.
Jennel wanted to host a party to invite guests to come and buy books. And she wanted to add a charitable spin. People could either shop for themselves, and Usborne would match 50 percent of sales with donated books. Or book shoppers could make a direct donation, which Michelle then used to buy more books.
The result: The friends delivered four boxes of books, worth a total of $780, that are now being used in Schreiber’s therapy and preschool programs. The gift arrived in plenty of time for the April 23’s World Book Day, a global celebration of authors, books and reading.
Michelle is a two-time S.T.A.R.S. mom. Her daughter Amy is a preschool grad, and a younger daughter Adrienne is currently enrolled.
“I’m a TSS (therapeutic support staff), and my client received services from Schreiber,” Michelle said, balancing her youngest, 1-year-old Tommy, on her lap. “We love Schreiber, and the preschool being inclusional was important to us.”
Schreiber’s inclusional or reverse mainstream philosophy places preschoolers with special needs in the same classroom as their typically developing peers.
“I wanted my kids to be around kids who were different from them,” she said. “I want them to learn to be an advocate and a voice for those kids in elementary school.”
Michelle has been an Usborne independent contractor for five years. You can find her online sales page here. She has an ongoing promotion now where once she reaches $250 in order, 50 percent of the retail total is donated to Schreiber as free books.
She also runs regular reading and literacy challenges for parents who follow her on Facebook. You can ask to join the group here.
“These are great books for all ages, even some for young adults,” Michelle said. “The philosophy of the company is to not talk down to kids, to treat them as inquisitive and create engaging, interactive books.”
Building inquisitive, engaged readers at Schreiber. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate World Book Day.
Schreiber’s Circle of Friends Academy child care program again received a STAR 4 rating from Pennsylvania’s Keystone STARS program, the highest rating possible under the state’s child care ratings. It’s the eighth straight year for Schreiber to receive the rating, which is intended to help parents and guardians compare the quality of different child care programs.
The state evaluates early learning programs in four key areas: staff education, learning environment, leadership/management and family/community partnerships.
“The STAR 4 rating tells us and the community the state believes we’re doing things right,” said Christina Kalyan, child care director at Circle of Friends. “We’re different from most Lancaster child care centers because we have kids with special needs next to their typically developing friends. And for those kids who need therapy or early intervention services, our therapists can do that while the kids are here during the day.”
News of the rating coincides with the start of two programs that celebrate the importance of high-quality early education in April. Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children (PA Promise) offers the Month of the Young Child, which focuses public attention on the needs of young children and their families and recognizes the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is organizing its 50th anniversary Week of the Young Child April 10-16 to celebrate early learning, young children, their teachers, families and communities.
Circle of Friends has special instruction planned throughout the month, including lessons on dinosaurs, kites and wind and social skills activities that teach the value of diversity.
Schreiber’s child care center, S.T.A.R.S. Preschool and array of therapy services helps children of all abilities reach their fullest potential.
March was Women’s History Month, and we have been noting throughout the month on social media the enormous contributions that women have made throughout Schreiber’s 85 years. In fact, Schreiber’s story starts with a woman, Edna Schreiber. We trace our roots back to the organization she started here in Lancaster County in 1936. So we thought it was fitting to begin our celebration with a note about Edna on March 8, which was International Women’s Day.
Since then, we have been highlighting several women at Schreiber today, therapists, educators and others who are continuing the work that Edna started all those years ago, work that remains critical to families here in Lancaster and across all of central Pennsylvania.
In Edna’s spirit: Service
Service at Schreiber: 41 years
Department: Speech-Language Pathology
Best part of your job today: Being a part of such a professional dedicated and friendly staff serving special children and families in the community.
One accomplishment you take extra pride in: Serving many families through Early Intervention over the many years.
In Edna’s spirit: Growth
Service at Schreiber: 33 years
Department: Occupational Therapy
Best part of your job today: Working as the OT in the STARS Preschool as part of the team that provides education and therapy services for the children in those classes.
One accomplishment you take extra pride in: One past preschooler that I provided OT services to is now a young adult. She uses her creativity and love for her community to create painted artwork and crafts to sell during the pandemic. She gives 50 percent of her sales to local charities, with Schreiber being the first organization she contributed to. That’s what it’s all about. It comes full circle when the children you invest in, use their skills that they worked on in therapy to become productive members of the community and turn around and invest in others.
In Edna’s spirit: Dedication
Service at Schreiber: 28 years
Department: Occupational Therapy
Best part of your job today: Seeing the kids put their hand prints up on the wall, because it shows their progress.
One accomplishment you take extra pride in: That the families and kids put their trust in me and allow me to become a part of their lives and see these kids achieve their goals.
In Edna’s spirit: Commitment
Service at Schreiber: 27 years
Department: Physical Therapy
Best part of your job today: Working with children to help them achieve their best physical potential.
One accomplishment you take extra pride in: Helping a teen develop her goals and work towards them. Watching this same teen overcome so many obstacles to walk across the stage at her college graduation. Seeing this same young women as a wife, mother and businesswoman in our community.
In Edna’s spirit: Connection
Service at Schreiber: 27 years
Department: S.T.A.R.S. Preschool
Best part of your job today: Working with Jay (Graver) and seeing smiling faces! And continuing to see them long after they graduate from preschool!
One accomplishment you take extra pride in: Introducing my daughter-in-law to my son all because of Club 625! Lisa Gilbert and I started Teen Scene many years ago, and it later developed into Club 625 as our teens grew older! I never would have guessed when Teen Scene started that I would end up with a “daughter” out of that awesome program!
In Edna’s spirit: Discovery
Service at Schreiber: 24 years
Department: Physical therapy
Best part of your job today: The kids and their families and helping them grow.
One accomplishment you take extra pride in: I have so many happy memories it is is hard to pick one. One memory is of a little girl I saw who had a prosthetic leg who wanted to dance but was told she could not. I was a dance teacher but was not teaching at the time, so I got her hooked up with a friend of mine and former board member, Marilyn Beitel. Cystal was then going to perform for a luncheon, but Marilyn couldn’t help her rehearse, so I ran her rehearsals and got to see her perform. Amazing!
Another memory is of a kid who had no independent mobility but loved splashing in the pool. He was getting an above-ground pool from Make-a-Wish, and the family needed to find a floatation device so that mom didn’t have to hold him up the whole time. I took him in our pool and found not only a good floatation device, but discovered that this kiddo with no mobility could safely swim by himself with the right floatation.
The best memories are in the quiet moments when a child discovers something new they can do!
In Edna’s spirit: Passion
Service at Schreiber: 15 years
Best part of your job today: Having the opportunity to help the families of young children
One accomplishment you take extra pride in: Recently, in a tele-intervention session, a young mom was explaining to me why the strategies we had talked about didn’t work with her son. We spent some time talking about the challenges of 2 year olds, and especially of trying to raise a 2 year old while living in a hotel room. We spent some time talking about what she was doing right. We brainstormed solutions to some of her other concerns and I gave her educational ideas that she could do within her routines and with what she had. At the end of the session, she came up with her own excellent idea to make the strategy that she had started the session discouraged about, work for her and her son. She was excited to give it a try, but I think I was even more excited for her.
In Edna’s spirit: Advocacy
Service at Schreiber: 13 years
Department: Social services/Family Support
Best part of your job today: Interacting with the kids and their families and seeing their progress
One accomplishment you take extra pride in: I actually have two. Starting our Respite Program and advocating for the addition of the behavioral health department.
MJ Bermudez was in the middle of an aquatic therapy session with Schreiber PT Laurie Panther when a photographer started snapping his picture.
Right away, a big smile spread across MJ’s face. This is somebody who likes having his picture taken.
“He doesn’t speak, but he understands everything,” says his mother, Sharon Petrosky. “He has lots of personality. He’s smart, with a great sense of humor.”
When Sharon talks about MJ, when she lists all the things he’s able to do, she says God is the only explanation for so much of it.
Yes, she has had amazing doctors since he was born 7 years ago. And, yes, the therapists that have worked with MJ, at Schreiber and at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., have done remarkable work.
But when she first learned of his complication during her pregnancy, she could not have imagined then where he would be today.
“The doctors we saw at the very beginning thought he would be blind, that he would be intellectually impaired, that he wouldn’t grow properly,” Sharon says. “None of that has happened. Nobody can really explain why, but he has exceeded every prognosis we’ve ever been given.”
A difficult diagnosis
While Sharon was still pregnant with MJ, doctors noticed the baby’s brain wasn’t developing correctly. The official diagnosis was septo optic dysplasia, a kind of cerebral palsy. It’s a disorder of early brain development that is generally associated with three features: underdevelopment of the optic nerves; abnormal formation of structures along the midline of the brain; and growth hormone deficiency.
Sharon didn’t really know what to expect when MJ was born, but she knew it wouldn’t be easy.
The blindness, growth issues and intellectual impairment didn’t happen. But he does have difficulty walking because of the way his legs have developed. And he can’t speak because of muscular issues related to his jaw structure.
“He can say about 11 words,” Sharon says. “But he can communicate. If somebody has a question about him, I’ll say: ‘Ask him. He can tell you.'”
Her focus has been helping him walk and talk. The efforts to help him walk include a remarkable procedure performed last summer at Nemours/duPont. They saw Dr. Jason Howard, an internationally recognized specialist in cerebral palsy, with particular expertise in hip displacement.
Sharon said MJ had developed an unusual way of walking because of the way his leg bones and muscles had formed, and his muscles were literally pulling his hip out of joint, which ended up slowly grinding his hip sockets.
She said Dr. Howard took one look at the X-rays and immediately saw a looming problem.
“He said within six months the damage would be irreversible,” she said. “He wanted to do surgery as soon as possible.”
The surgery on July 22 was one of those “how do they do that” miracles of modern science: four surgeons, seven hours, 14 different procedures. It involved cutting through his femurs, pulling the ball out of each socket, detaching and reattaching some muscles to have them pull correctly on his hips, and then putting in some hardware to keep everything in place during healing.
“I’ve been doing this 10 years, I’ve never had a kid recover like this from this surgery. He just blew everybody out of the water.”Laurie Panther, Schreiber physical therapist
“We were at Nemours for more than two months; it’s a phenomenal place,” Sharon said. “We literally lived there. He had different therapies four times a day. They had a classroom for him for school. And then when it was time to come home, they set us up with outpatient therapy here at Schreiber.”
That started around September. He comes for physical therapy twice a week to continue rehabbing those hips, and he also receives occupational therapy (twice a week) and speech-language pathology (once a week). All together, he’s usually at Schreiber three days a week. Plus, he receives all three therapies at school through IU13.
“The doctor said MJ is 12-18 months ahead of the average schedule post-surgery,” Sharon says. “We have once last surgery this July to remove the hardware in his hips. But he is fully healed.”
Progress at Schreiber
Laurie Panther, the PT who has worked with him the most, said his mobility was pretty limited when he started at Schreiber.
“He was not walking,” Laurie said. “He was using a wheelchair as his primary means of mobility. He could use a walker for short distances. He couldn’t get up off the floor.”
That’s all typical after the kind of complex surgery MJ had. Laurie said the typical post-surgery recovery for a kiddo with CP to get back to their pre-surgery status is 1-2 years. Mark is there after just seven months.
“He’s actually an enigma,” she said. “I’ve been doing this 10 years, I’ve never had a kid recover like this from this surgery. He just blew everybody out of the water. He’s doing everything he was doing before the surgery, with better alignment, which was the point of his surgery.”
By Missy Ressler
Here is our sixth and final post in Schreiber’s series on The Many Faces of Anxiety. Today focuses on a few additional calming strategies. Please share some of your family’s calming strategies in the comments below. We are all in this together, and your strategies will help someone else.
Here’s the list of all the posts:
Post 1:What is Worry
Post 2:How the Autonomic Nervous System works
Post 3:How worry affects our bodies
Post 4: A little spot of anxiety
Post 5: How worry affects our thinking
Post 6: 10 more calming strategies
Here are 10 more strategies to use to help calm the mind so you can think clearly and the use the strategies discussed in previous posts.
- Identify the size of the problem and expected reaction. Most problems are little and we need to have a little reaction. A lot of times we have a big reactions to small problems. First, identify if the problem is little or big and what an expected reaction would be. Little problems are things we can solve ourselves or quickly with an adult’s help. It is expected we stay calm. A big problem affects many people, and it takes a lot of people or a long time to solve it. It would be expected to be upset, but we still need to stay calm so our brain can solve the problem.
- Progressive muscle relaxation/squish and relax. Start with your toes and work your way up to your head by squeezing one body part at a time for 3 seconds then relaxing it.
- Adult coloring books, mandalas or any coloring activity.
- Relaxing music.
- Yoga. Check out cosmickids.com The site also has a lot of mindfulness activities.
- Play with your pet.
- Guided relaxation. Think about your favorite place, and use podcasts and guided relaxation scripts for kids that you can find online.
- Use ‘I statements’ to express how you feel and what you want. “I feel sad when I can’t see my friends. I would like to Zoom with them.”
- Calming bottle. Fill an empty water bottle ½ to ¾ full with water. Add beads, glitter glue, glitter, food coloring, shells, little bit of oil, or anything that would fit into the bottle and survive in water. Use plastic craft glue or duct tape to secure the lid so water does not leak out. Shake the bottle and take deep breaths while watching all the items float around. Our mind and body should calm just like the items in the bottle.
- The Dear Anxiety podcast. I highly recommend this. You can find it here. It is great for parents and kids.
Please share your child’s coping skills in the comments below.
Missy Ressler is behavioral health program supervisor at the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development.
Logan and Nicholas Campbell are almost-6-year-old twin boys with twin obsessions: lawn mowers and Schreiber’s Duckie.
The boys were in all their glory this week when they stopped in with dad Nathan Campbell, who was picking up tickets to sell for Schreiber’s annual Rubber Duckie Race.
The iconic inflatable Duckie was standing tall outside, and a mowing team was navigating around the Duckie and the Schreiber building with thousands of Duckies inside.
“They love seeing the Duckie,” Nathan said.
The Campbells drive 45 minutes from their home in Camp Hill to Schreiber every week for services. Logan was born with a mild form of cerebral palsy and receives physical therapy and speech-language therapy. Nicholas was born with some developmental delays and comes for PT and OT. They’ve been making the trek to Schreiber for about two years.
“There’s nothing like Schreiber up around us, which is unfortunate, so we’re happy to make the drive,” Nathan said. “We love it here.”
There’s nothing like Schreiber up around us, which is unfortunate, so we’re happy to make the drive. We love it here.Nathan Campbell
Nathan was picking up 210 Duckies for tickets he and his wife Lauren have already sold to friends and neighbors in Camp Hill.
“They don’t know anything about Schreiber, but they know the boys and want to want to support us,” Nathan said. “My wife put up a Facebook post the other day, and people have been buying them like crazy.”
While their dad answered questions, Logan and Nicholas kept an eye on the big Duckie and the mowers. Then they posed for a quick photo with our new Duckie mascot before heading out the door, on their way back to Camp Hill to sell more Duckies for Schreiber.
Become a Duckie seller
The more Duckie sellers we have, the more Duckies we sell and the more money we raise. And every Duckie dollar is doubled by a matching grant from the Stabler Foundation. Want to join the team? Contact Erica Croce at 717-393-0425 ext. 105 or email@example.com. Or fill out the online form here.
by Missy Ressler
In the fifth post in our series of anxiety, Schreiber’s Behavioral Health therapists share strategies for when your child forms worry links and asks “what if” questions. In order to help families who are struggling with scary emotions over wearing masks or seeing people in masks, please share a picture of your family wearing masks. You can learn other tips for coping with masks here.
Here’s the list of all the posts:
Post 1:What is Worry
Post 2:How the Autonomic Nervous System works
Post 3:How worry affects our bodies
Post 4: ‘A Little Spot of Anxiety’
Post 5: How worry affects our thinking
Post 6: Other calming strategies
Missy Ressler is the Behavioral Health program supervisor at Schreiber.