HackensackUMC Honored at 10th Annual Rebeka Verea Gala

March 30, 2015 01:06 PM
John J. LoCurto, M.D. and Meliam Gonzales, RN, BSN of HackensackUMC were honored at the 10th annual Rebeka Verea Gala.

The Rebeka Verea Foundation held the 10th annual Rebeka Verea Gala on Saturday, March 14, at the Palisadium in Cliffside Park.  John J. LoCurto, M.D., chief of the Trauma/Surgical Critical Care and Injury Prevention Section at HackensackUMC and Meliam Gonzales, RN, BSN, Trauma Prevention Coordinator and Clinical Educator were honored at this year’s gala.

“As a trauma surgeon for 30 years, I have seen the effects of careless and impaired driving all too often,” said Dr. LoCurto.  “I am honored to receive this award from the Rebeka Verea Foundation.   I hope Rebeka’s story continues to serve as a reminder to drivers how fragile life is and how important it is to drive safely.”

The Cliffside Park-based foundation was founded by Lourdes and Dr. Jorge Verea in 2005, following the tragic death of their daughter Rebeka, a passenger in a car crash on Westside Avenue in North Bergen, just hours after she graduated from CPHS.

Meliam Gonzales, who has worked at HackensackUMC for 19 years added, “We were truly humbled and honored.  The greatest gift my job has given me is the opportunity to help change the risky behavioral culture of our children through education.  Keeping our children safe from trauma has become my number one passion.”

Since 2005, the Vereas have worked tirelessly to spread their message of responsible driving and to raise funds to support Project Graduation events in New Jersey high schools and their annual safe driving symposium. Funds are used to host nearly 1,000 students, who enjoy a morning of presentations, motivational speakers and lunch.

To date, the foundation has worked with 27 school districts to provide funding for safe, celebratory festivities on high school graduation night. Additionally, the organization holds an annual symposium, where students from across New Jersey come together to celebrate Rebeka’s life and to participate in activities and presentations relating to responsible driving.Through their organization, the Vereas educate teens about driving responsibly. Their message is poignant yet simple: "Say yes to life: drive responsibly."

About Hackensack University Medical Center

HackensackUMC, a nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is the flagship hospital of Hackensack University Health Network, one of the largest health networks in the state comprised of 1,250 beds, nearly 10,000 employees and 2,700 credentialed physicians. HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospital rankings for 2014-15. It is one of the top 30 hospitals in the nation by receiving 11 national specialty rankings, including a national ranking for the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Neurology and Neurosurgery in the 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospitals. The children’s hospital is housed with the Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital in the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center, and was included on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. HackensackUMC is one of Healthgrades America's 50 Best Hospitals™ for nine years in a row, and received the Healthgrades Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence™ 13 years in a row. The medical center has also been named a Leapfrog Top Hospital, and received 23 Gold Seals of Approval™ by the Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. HackensackUMC is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and was Official Medical Services Provider to The Barclays PGA Golf Tournament and the NY/NJ Super Bowl XLV111 Host Committee. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events. To learn more, visit: www.HackensackUMC.org.




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