News Article

At Annual Society Reception, Kennedy Krieger Recognizes Six Supporters for Their Service to the Institute, Greater Community
June 4, 2024


Kennedy Krieger Institute recognized six exceptional individuals for their support of the Institute’s mission as well as their advocacy on behalf of the patients and families the Institute serves.

Receiving awards were:

  • Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, Kennedy Krieger Advocates of the Year
  • Nancy S. Grasmick EdD, Zanvyl Krieger Award
  • Jerry Sersen, Mimi Baklor Volunteer of the Year Award,
  • Alan and Julie Faneca, Henry Rosenberg Jr. Community Award

The six honorees received their awards at the Institute’s annual Society Reception on May 28, held at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. The event honors the Institute’s top donors from the previous year.

Sen. Cardin and Rep. Ruppersberger, named Kennedy Krieger Advocates of the Year, received recognition for their distinguished and impactful careers as two pillars of the Maryland Congressional Delegation. Both Sen. Cardin and Rep. Ruppersberger are leaving office at the end of their current terms.

“Dutch has championed legislation that has had a tremendous impact on the Institute, and those we serve, most notably providing services for US military families around the world,” said Brad Schlaggar, MD, PhD, president and CEO of Kennedy Krieger. “His commitment and support have meant the world to us.

In honoring Sen. Cardin, Dr. Schlaggar cited his long career of public service and his believe that access to quality affordable health care is a right and not a privilege. “He’s been a powerful advocate for Kennedy Krieger and those we serve, for decades, with a special interest in children’s health and education,” Dr. Schlaggar said.

Dr. Grasmick, who received the Zanvyl Krieger Award, started collaborating with Kennedy Krieger over 40 years ago when she was a Baltimore County educator. She later founded, and continues to lead, the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education (CILSE) at Kennedy Krieger. In 2011, she joined the Institute’s Board of Directors and has served for the board chair for the last six years. She also serves as vice-chair Kennedy Krieger’s Foundation Board. 

“Dr. Grasmick is a leader, role model, strategist, mentor, sponsor, advocate, and trusted friend,” Dr. Schlaggar said. “I feel exceptionally fortunate to get to work with her.”

Jerry Sersen, an adaptive athlete, received the Mimi Baklor Volunteer of the Year Award. Sersen, who was struck by a car as a young child, receives therapy services through Kennedy Krieger’s International Center for Spinal Cord Injuries, and has raised more than $100,000 for Team Kennedy Krieger’s adaptive sports program, where he is known by teammates for his determination and positive outlook.

Pro football Hall of Fame member Alan Faneca and his wife, Julie, received the Henry Rosenberg Jr. Community Award for their advocacy on behalf of patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome. Their daughter, now a teenager, is a patient at Kennedy Krieger’s Hunter Nelson Sturge-Weber Syndrome Center, and their story illustrates what a difference one family can make to bring recognition and resources to tackle the treatment of a rare disease, Dr. Schlaggar said.

“We are so grateful for each of these awardees, for their hard work, for their faith in our mission, and for the enthusiasm they have brought to their efforts,” Dr. Schlaggar said. “Kennedy Krieger is truly a better place because of their tireless efforts on our behalf.”