For a Consonus Rehab leader in California, setting a goal for his team to once again create New Chapters wish fulfillment experiences for residents was a top priority in 2022. Though the program had been put on the back burner during the height of the pandemic, Kevin Quinn, Rehab Coordinator at Sierra Valley Rehabilitation Center, believed both therapists and residents could use the emotional boost planning these events can offer. By granting a New Chapters wish for Gilbert Gutierrez, one of their patients, they brought the program back to life in their facility.
An avid, life-long runner, Gilbert had let it be known that he wanted to re-experience the thrill of the race once again at age 59. As a high school athlete, he had loved to compete as part of the cross-country track team, and after high school, he even tried out for a spot on the Oakland Raiders football team. “Running has always been a good way for me to clear my head, reflect and relieve stress,” he said.
In requesting this New Chapter, Gilbert had another, deeper motivation. For 20 years, it was his passion to help others recover from drug and alcohol addiction, and even a brief episode of homelessness did not dissuade him from this commitment. Now, he believes his opportunities for impact are far from over. “It’s never too late to give back to your community. Maybe someone will see me and think, ‘If he can do it, I can too!’” he said. “I’ve had a lot of obstacles to overcome in my life, but by the grace of God I’m still here, and can still make a difference!”
Gilbert’s New Chapter wish to be back on the track was fulfilled by Kevin and his team on Dec. 11, 2022, at the annual Toys for Tots Jingle Bell Run in Visalia, Calif. “My favorite part of the day was when I lined up at the starting line, and they started the countdown for the race to begin,” Gilbert reminisced. “When I heard the starting pistol fire, it felt so good to be back out there! I consider it an honor to be chosen for this experience, and I hope it inspires others to get involved.”
Congratulations to the Consonus Rehab team at Sierra Valley Rehabilitation Center for bringing back New Chapters with such an exciting and inspiring event.