Madonna honors patients at Goal Awards

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN)- Determination was a common theme at the 25th annual Madonna Goal Awards. Two Nebraska natives spoke about their experiences in rehab at Madonna on Friday. They both say while they are honored to receive the award, they think there are a lot of other people who deserve it too.

(Source: Madison Pitsch)

Sheila Copley from Denton survived a plane crash which left her paralyzed from the waist down. John Abkes from Omaha was on vacation in Mexico when a wave slammed him into the ocean floor and broke his neck.

"They possessed courage and perseverance, they have a very strong will and unique personalities that allow them to overcome great obstacles," said Paul Dongilli, President and CEO of Madonna.

Both spent weeks at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln. On Friday they were recognized for their determination to recover at the 25th Annual Goal Awards.

"When you look at the people that have come through here, the dedication, the perseverance, the sweat when you're in the gym," Abkes said. "You see so many people pouring their hearts and souls into this, you're just one of them."

Madonna also honored Wahoo Bishop Neumann Graduate Brandon Breuning who was temporarily paralyzed after a car crash and Ulises Ornelas, who was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder.

All four showed courageous attitudes and say they couldn't have done it without the incredible team and staff at Madonna.

"They let me know that if I just worked hard, that I would be able to get the maximum recovery I could," Abkes said.

For Copley and Abkes, their time in Madonna was crucial to getting back to the life they wanted to live.

"We just keep living life," Copley said.

According to Abkes, faith and God got them through this.

"God has a plan for this, I'm not done. I'm going to be sharing the story he wants me to share," said Abkes.

During the ceremony, people who worked with Copley and Abkes were able to get up, speak and explain why they nominated them for the award.