Stephens Smith JonesMichael Stephens, Anita Smith, Dean Harold JonesMichael E. Stephens, driving force behind the Lakeshore Foundation, kicked off the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions 2013-2014 “Rebuilding Bodies and Restoring Lives: Learning in Context” book discussion series. Stephens was joined by veteran journalist Anita Smith whose book “Sports Rehabilitation and the Human Spirit” inspired the event. The discussion, co-sponsored by the SHP Dean’s Office and the Office of Student Success, was held at UAB Cudworth Hall Auditorium in December and attended by more than 200 students and dozens of faculty.

UAB School of Health Professions Dean Harold P. Jones, Ph.D., moderated a spirited discussion with Stephens and Smith that touched on the history of the Lakeshore Foundation as well as the tremendous work Lakeshore is doing today to help American soldiers injured in combat return to service and to life.

“We are fortunate that seeing people with steel for an arm or leg is becoming more natural in society and because of that I believe our wounded military servicemen and women are going to become our future leaders,” said Stephens. “Right now they are on the rise – they’re at the Lakeshore camp and rehabbing and having fun – but soon things will settle down and the war is ending and they will get back to work. And not only will they be great for rehabilitation but these are great people who will rehab into something even greater.”

Stephens SmithStephens, Smith discuss "Sports Rehabilitation and the Human Spirit"Smith, who covered Lakeshore’s work for decades as a reporter and medical editor with the Birmingham News, has watched the organization grow into a world class facility and a U.S. Olympic an Paralympic training facility. She told the audience Lakeshore has succeeded because of Stephens and his vision.

“The ingredients and the recipe is what make Lakeshore special. Correct decisions have been made all along the way and there is an attitude there that is hard to describe but it is contagious and it is real but it’s not by accident,” said Smith. “The original long range plan was to have apartments on Lakeshore’s campus for people with physical disabilities but when Mike arrived he said no. He told them the Lakeshore mission is not to isolate people with physical disabilities – it is to empower them so they can get out and mix with the whole world.”

Stephens, an alumnus of the UAB Master of Science in Health Administration (Class 9), singled out Professor Emeritus Tee Hiett, Ph.D., who taught statistics in the School of Health Professions for many years. Stephens told the students to not overlook statistics in work or life and most importantly, do not become a statistic.

Stephens RhoadesStephens with UAB PT student Terry Rhoades“Statistically, some of us are going to end up in bad places in life and for some reason I did and for some reason I found out why I was there and what I must do,” said Stephens. “You need to have faith in God, keep in the right direction and believe it is going to work out for you. In the long term, even when you think the end is there – it’s not. There are many more things to be done and just when you are ready to give up, your life blossoms into something much greater than you ever dreamed it would be. So always believe that.”

The discussion series, which will include leaders in the field of occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistants, rehabilitation science and health services administration, is scheduled to continue throughout 2014. There are a number of special events being planned including tours of the Lakeshore Foundation, an essay contest judged by Smith and several scholarship opportunities.