Connie Stanik, a speech pathologist at Akron Children’s North Canton Health Center, brought much happiness and laughter to her co-workers and patients. When Connie died unexpectedly in January at the age of 57, her co-workers were compelled to create a memory book to recognize the lasting impression she made on all who knew her, especially her patients.
The rehab staff in North Canton, including fellow speech pathologists Megan Barahona, Monica Harmon, Erin Namey and Sarah Robbins; occupational therapists Kelly Pruett and Melissa Scheibe; and occupational therapy assistant Sandy Teis were instrumental in bringing the memory book to fruition.
“We sent letters to all of Connie’s patient families to let them know about the memory book. Several of her patients either brought something from home or made a drawing during their occupational therapy session to be included,” said Melissa. “Many therapists wrote letters, shared poems or pictures, or quoted songs to be placed in the book.”
The North Canton rehab staff produced a bound book with all of the submissions. The memory book will be presented to Connie’s family at a memorial service planned for the end of August.
The staff also collaborated on other ways to pay tribute to Connie. A tree has been planted in her honor at the North Canton Health Center, where an engraved plaque has been installed.
“Connie was a great friend of mine. She was kind and dedicated to her profession and the kids that she treated,” said Kelly.
While there are many heartfelt messages from patient families and co-workers in the memory book, one submission particularly stands out: “Connie had been Blaine’s speech therapist for four years. (During that time), Blaine wasn’t the nicest. He went through stages of hitting, pinching and swiping everything off the table. He definitely gave Connie a run for her money. No matter how bad the session was, she would come out smiling. She never gave up on him…Connie was always a shoulder you could cry on. She would give the shirt off her back if you needed anything, let alone if the kids needed anything. Blaine had a book programmed into his talker and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I told Connie about this and when we came in two weeks later, she had purchased the book so Blaine can read along with it. We will forever cherish the memories with her. Thank you for sharing Connie with us.”
Although she may be gone, Connie’s legacy of providing extraordinary patient care will continue to live on in the children and families she has served.