National Siblings Day: April 10, 2022


Apr 10, 2022

“Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way.” – Pamela Dugdale

Brendan Bak, outpatient physical therapist at Riverside Healthy Living Center, decided to pursue a career in physical therapy in part to honor his late grandfather, William Holland.

In October of 1992, Brendan’s grandfather suffered a brain aneurysm while on his way to work as a boilermaker in Buffalo, New York. He was taken to Buffalo General Hospital where he stayed for 10 days before suffering a major stroke that left him paralyzed on his entire right side and with extreme aphasia. After the stroke, he was flown to Memorial Rehabilitation Center (Brooks) in Jacksonville, Fla., where he stayed at the inpatient hospital for more than five weeks receiving physical, occupational and speech therapy services.

“My grandfather was the strongest man I’ve ever known. I heard stories from my mother about everything he went through to progress from being paralyzed to becoming as mobile and as strong as he was,” he said. “It was the first time I became interested in the idea of physical therapy and considered it as a career option. Knowing the incredible rehabilitation my grandfather received after his stroke, Brooks was my number one choice.” Brendan graduated with his doctorate of physical therapy from Nova Southeastern before beginning his career as a physical therapist at the Brooks Northside outpatient clinic in 2019.

Two years later, Brendan’s younger sister Erin was searching for a new job and came across an open marketing position for the Brooks Institute of Higher Learning. “I remember texting Brendan and asking him if he thought I would like working at Brooks. He replied and told me the culture cannot be beat, and I should definitely jump on the opportunity. Now after working here for over a year, I can’t picture myself anywhere else. It’s one thing for a company to list integrity, compassion, teamwork and accountability as its core values – but it’s another thing to actually practice it on a daily basis,” says Erin.

Now, both siblings are working for the organization that helped rehabilitate their grandfather and gave their family the resources and support they needed.

“I often think about my grandfather and how special he was to me. Without Brooks, I would have never been able to experience the love and happiness he brought me for so many years. I am proud to work for this company and grateful I get it do it alongside my big brother,” said Erin.

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