Friday, September 14, 2012

OT Leader Creates Car Show Fund Raiser for Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Coming SOON:  September 29, 2012
Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center’s 1st Annual Car Show!!

     Those of us, who accomplish great feats, never do it alone.  As we learn of the progress for the upcoming Car Show, “Rebuilding Cars, Rebuilding Lives” at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (Rancho), in Downey, on September 29, 2012, Amy Salinas’ leadership traits are clearly evident.   A few short months ago, the Rancho Los Amigos Car Show was just becoming a reality.  Since the last post, Amy has assembled over 20 different committees with people from many different communities who are invested in making this car show a success.  To date, well over 50 people have participated in the planning process alone. As more people become involved, the event is expanding to include activities, people and communities Amy never dreamed of, and would never have been able to accomplish on her own.  Although there is a long list of ongoing events, the focus of this article will be the leadership skills Amy is implementing.

Passion: When someone is passionate about a cause, it is easy to inspire others. 
      Amy’s father loves vintage cars.  From the time she was very young; Amy accompanied her father to car shows and kept him company while he worked at his hobby of restoring cars.  Professionally, Amy has been working at Rancho for 15 years.  She is a compassionate and successful therapist, as well as the supervisor on the adult and pediatric traumatic brain injury service.  Amy is committed to making the rehabilitation experience for each of her patients and their loved ones, the best that it can be.  Amy’s dream to organize and produce a car show at Rancho unites her passion for the patients she cares for, the hospital she works at, the professionals she works with, and the love she feels for her father and her family. 

Communication: With a clear focus, it is easy to communicate the objective of the project.  
     Initially, Amy was using the brain injury team meetings as an avenue to discuss and plan for the program.  With the enormity of the upcoming show, it soon became apparent that a separate meeting was necessary. Representatives from each committee either volunteered or were selected as the spokesperson to meet with the planning team, and hold separate meetings with their specific team.  Presently, Amy administers monthly meetings with the representatives to establish action plans, obtain updates on committee progress, solve problems and to keep the program on track.  Amy finds that for the area of communication, she uses a wide skill set. She must be able to clearly communicate with hospital administrators, other hospital staff, therapy peers, patients and their families.  She is also communicating with community organizations such as car clubs and Crainco Crane Service who is raffling off an opportunity to sit in one of their “Funny Cars”! (Check out at their video at:  Two other funny cars joining the show will be brought to you by Keeter Ray Racing and Pure Heaven Racing.

     In addition to modifying her communication depending upon her audience, she finds it most important to consider people’s feelings at all times.  The larger this project becomes, the more invested the contributors are.  It is very exciting when the people working on the project take full responsibility however; this sometimes creates less than optimal interpersonal dynamics. It is Amy’s responsibility to prioritize the focus on the car show while empowering the contributors in their leadership roles. Amy reports that addressing issues as early as possible helps to keep emotions steady and the flow of communication smooth.  She finds that by fully listening to the concern first, it helps to ease the resolution. By always keeping the goal of the project as the primary focus, it helps people to generate solutions without taking it personally. 

Discipline: It takes discipline to see a project through to completion.
     Amy is clearly doing this project because it is what is in her heart.  She is doing it while working her regular hours as a supervisor on the pediatric and adult traumatic brain injury service.  There are weekends and nights spent working on the project but Amy finds the investment of time will pay off in the future for the benefit of the brain injury service. Building a first-time event from the ground up takes discipline, but once the connections are made the event will easily expand for future car shows. By example, she is demonstrating to her team that leadership is not a “nine to five” job.

Generosity and Gratitude: Everyone on the team is necessary for a successful outcome.
      During my interview with Amy, it was apparent that she is grateful for every single person who is making this show a reality.  She humbly recognizes that each person has something great to contribute. She is open to ideas that will benefit the show and recognizes that it is only through each person’s contribution that this show will be a success.  She remains open to suggestions and includes ideas that are in line with the goal of the project. She consistently gives credit to the appropriate parties, rather than taking the credit herself.  As the project leader, if things do not run as smoothly as she’d like, she assumes full responsibility.

What can we expect?
      As of today, over 60 cars are registered and they are expecting 100 cars on the day of the event.  Amy and her team have secured 15 vendors, and over 25 donors including: Universal Waste who is donating porta potties, Mountain Spring Water who is donating all the drinking water, AAA is donating goody bags, Dave’s trophy donated the “Best in Show” trophy, the brain injury team is donating raffle prizes. Danchuk Manufacturing made a $200 contribution.  There will be volunteers from Warren high school, Downey Princess Court, Girl Scouts and of course many of the Rancho employees and friends of Rancho.

     The event will be free to spectators. Funds generated by the $25 registration for each car in the show will be used by the adult and pediatric brain injury service to purchase cutting-edge therapeutic equipment and for program development.  20 trophies will be issued including: “Patient’s Choice”, “Don Knabe Choice”, and “Children’s Choice” along with the traditional car show trophies. Patients from the hospital are participating in the show by casting their votes as well.

     The “Rebuilding Cars, Rebuilding Lives” will showcase specialty adapted vehicles alongside the restored classic cars. This is a first-time-ever event at a car show!  Some past patients of Rancho will manage many of the events.  Jay Cramer will the emcee the show and, Hector Duran (“Juice”) will be singing the national anthem. Adding more meaning to the day,  Know Barries peer mentors living with brain injuries will be sharing their stories

     Amy is clearly practicing a leadership style that empowers her team members. By providing the guidance and the support, the passion and the focus, her team members will shine.

Here are some of the leadership skills she is using:
    • Vision and passion ignite the project and keep it moving forward.
    • Communication with flexibility and good listening skills to address a wide variety of people.
    • Keep the project as the primary focus to reduce personal feelings from interfering with the process.
    • Discipline to make the project a priority and keep it moving forward despite everything else that occurs in life.
    • Demonstrate generosity, gratitude and appreciation for all the people who work on the project.
    • Utilization of a wide range of resources in order to accomplish your goals.
    • Of course, keep a sense of humor to keep the mood light and reduce the stress.
    • Work with goals and deadlines. I
    n general, it takes about one year to put together a car show; Amy and her team will pull it off in less than six months! 
Let’s wish them all good luck.  We hope to see you there

To learn more about the car show, visit the website at:

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