Rancho Los Amigos’ Spinal Cord Injury Games

Jocelyn Rosillo, Writer

Since 2010, Rancho Los Amigos has hosted an annual Spinal Cord Injury Games event. This event showcases the survivors of strokes, major gunshot wounds, etc. and, paraplegic patients’ love for sports.


There were competitive yet friendly games of hockey, rugby, basketball, golf, rock climbing, tennis, and football going on all day, along with music and information on spinal cord injuries, strokes, accessibility and more. Not only was there entertainment but there were also informative booths held by many health-care vendors and nursing homes. 


Deepa Kannampuzha, a nurse manager explained her views of Rancho’s ultimate goal of restoring health, revitalizing hope, and rebuilding lives. 


After speaking to her about what she does under her title and as an individual, Kannampuzha stated, “If they[patients] need something, I strive to get it for them because that is my job. But I also try to connect with them at a heart to heart level, getting to know them and what is best for each and every one of them,” she went on. “Helping them to allow themselves and others truly see a clear vision of what is to come, supporting them every step of the way.”


Jacqueline Rojo, a clinical social worker, joined the team at rancho because of her empathy toward the disabled, wanting to help them. She says that aside from spreading the word and helping others, the best part of her job is the work environment and team she works with, strengthening Deepa’s previous point. 


“Rancho has been around providing rehabilitation and medical services for different disabilities, supporting both the patient(s)’ recovery process and their family,” Rojo continued. “In this very difficult period in their lives, they need someone to be there, that is where we come in.” 


After asking what he thought of the others’ comments, paraplegic patient, Albert Bartee Ⅲ deemed Rancho Los Amigos a safe, unifying place that feels like home. 


One night, age 17, Bartee was walking with a few of his younger friends and was shot, sending him to the hospital. 


“It was a painful and depressing experience at first but after a while I realized the perks of being in a wheelchair,” Bartee exclaimed. “It may not seem like it but it did open up a lot of opportunities. I made friends, family, and triumphed over the larger struggle I’ve had, proud to have bounced back. I also learned more about my disability and pursued something I love, basketball and teaching others.”


Bartee is a team player, coach, and athlete in a team called Halos there at Rancho. 


“That [basketball and the people] are my push. That is the reason I started smiling more and feeling better about myself,” he said, portraying his true mindset. “When I play all the pain goes away, knowing everybody there has gone through something already and seeing all the support we get. Everyone out there has something they can help you with and I love it.”


Hugo Sandoval, Jasmine Vallejo, and Faith Rott all believe Rancho’s Spinal Cord Injury games is a fun ‘game’ day in which the community is shown some of the strongest survivors, educating them about the different disabilities, and how to help. 


In closing, Bartee asked if I’d leave these words, and I believe I owe it to him to do so.


“Do not do something because it just fun or looks good. Instead, do it for a purpose, something that will help out not only yourself but others too.”  – Albert Bartee Ⅲ