Brooks Warm Hug Blanket Campaign: Andrew’s Legacy


Dec 21, 2022

In 2017, Andrew Miller, was riding his motorcycle when a car shifted into his lane. Andrew hit the back bumper and crashed. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and suffered a traumatic brain injury along with multiple broken bones. His family was told he had a 1% chance of survival.

After life-saving care at Memorial Hospital, Andrew spent the next several months learning to walk and talk again at Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital and the Brooks Brain Injury Day Treatment Program. When he heard that Brooks sponsors the Brooks Challenge Mile at the Gate River Run, a one-mile walk for people of all abilities, he made it his goal to participate. Friends, family and Brooks clinicians helped him complete the walk.

“As Andrew’s recreational therapist, I was able to get him back into doing all the fun things he enjoyed prior to his accident. We incorporated his therapy goals into our recreation therapy sessions and Andrew always challenged me as a therapist. He made such tremendous progress each and every day that I had to tailor each session to make sure it was a functional challenge for him. The fun part of the sessions came naturally. Andrew was always joking around and bringing light to any situation. He was so determined to make a full recovery even though the odds were against him. I looked forward to each day that I was able to be a part of his recovery,” says Cara de Lugo, CTRS, CBIS.

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Due in large part to his determination and perseverance, Andrew made a full recovery from his injuries. Tragically, just two years later, Andrew lost his life in a swimming accident.

Before he left Brooks, he gave his Brooks blanket to another patient in need. To honor her son’s generous heart, Andrew’s mother, Stacie Hamilton, has been donating blankets to patients at Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital each year during the holidays.

“Andrew was the type of person that just made your day. He had an ability to turn even the worst situation into laughter. Definitely someone who loved people and always wanted to help,” said Amela Trako, COTA/L.

When she arrived this year with almost 50 blankets for patients, Brooks had a special surprise for her. Three staff members who worked with Andrew when he was a patient, Cara de Lugo, Amela Trako and Emily Howell, purchased a commemorative brick in our Healing Garden in Andrew’s memory and held a ribbon cutting to present it to Stacie.

“Stacie’s reaction to the presentation of Andrew’s brick was so genuine. She showed up that day expecting to deliver 50 blankets and thought that she would be able to sneak in and out without being noticed. Of course, we had other plans. Stacie and her family work to spread joy to others at every opportunity. That’s just the type of person she is. We were so lucky to be part of Andrew’s team and to have encountered such wonderful people along the way,” said Emily Howell, PT, DPT.

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