Steve Clay is one of Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center's most powerful patient success stories. He was a highly acclaimed painter before suffering a major stroke that totally incapacitated his right side."When doctors told me there was very little chance I would ever be able to paint again, I was afraid my career as an artist was over," he said. Then he came to Rancho, arriving in a wheelchair and suffering from severe depression. "Rancho's clinicians and therapists worked with me hour after hour, guiding me as I pursued my dream of painting again," he said. "After two years of rehab, painstaking effort, and the love and support of my treatment team, I was ready to start again." "I succeeded in readapting by learning to draw with my left hand," he said. "As my therapy progressed, I regained the use of my right hand. I know God was watching over me, because the impossible happened. It was truly a miracle." After his recovery, Steve began what has been nearly 13 years of dedicated service to the hospital, in a variety of highly visible and very significant ways, including: • Being one of the founding artists of the Art of Rancho program. • Creating large portraits of more than 70 artists in the Art of Rancho program. The framed originals hang in a long corridor in Rancho's Support Services Annex. The portraits are also used in the world-renowned Art of Rancho book and calendar each year. • Serving as an instructor in the visual arts module of the Don Knabe Pediatric Arts Program. Steve has had a huge positive impact on the young artists in this highly successful program. • Creating a masterpiece capturing the history of Rancho. This 44-inch by 33- inch painting will soon hang in the main lobby of the hospital's Jacquelin Perry Institute, so that Rancho's patients and visitors can enjoy it. • Serving as an eloquent spokesperson for the Rancho patient experience and the hospital's enduring value to the community. • Assisting the Foundation and the hospital in securing Seal for his free concert for the patients and staff, which was held in 2006. This historic performance would not have been possible without more than two years of effort on Steve's part. • Serving as a mentor to Rancho graduate artists in the Art of Rancho program, and helping organize the Art of Rancho Exhibition each year. "Steve has had, and continues to have, a major positive impact at Rancho by serving as a role model and as a real-life example of the ability that can be regained even from catastrophic disabling illnesses and injuries," said Rancho CEO Jorge Orozco. In recognition of his extraordinary service to the hospital and its patients, he will be honored with the Amistad Friend Award at the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation's 24th Annual Amistad Gala May 1 at the Westin Long Beach Hotel. "When I had all but given up hope, Rancho was there to inspire me, to support me, and to help me believe that I could still make a contribution in this world," Steve said. "Now I paint with both hands and my colleagues tell me my work is better than ever." Today, Steve's spectacular artworks hang in prestigious galleries and museums around the world. He has become recognized not just for his magnificent artworks, but also for his courage, his commitment, and his caring for others who are working hard to return to productive lives after a devastating illness or injury. "I have seen the impact of the hospital's magic in my own life, and as a result, I carry the Spirit of Rancho in my heart each and every day," he said. "I am very grateful to the entire Rancho family for always believing in me and giving me back my dream."
********** Published: April 30, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 2