Campus: CSU, Northridge -- October 25, 2000

Couple Surprises CSUN with Additional $500,000 for New Adaptive Aquatic Therapy Center

In a surprise gesture, Linda and Abbott Brown announced at a campus groundbreaking ceremony last week that they are adding $500,000 to the $1.5 million their foundation already has donated to Cal State Northridge for a new adaptive aquatic therapy center.

Linda Brown made the announcement before more than 300 people during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Abbott and Linda Brown Western Center for Adaptive Aquatic Therapy.

Brown said she and her husband wanted to ensure that the university has enough money for the center's completion, and that CSUN professor San Britten, who fought for years for the creation of the center, could see his name permanently attached to the center when opened.

"I couldn't imagine any better way to celebrate my birthday," Brown said later, noting that the Oct. 19 ceremony was on her birthday.

University officials were pleased by Brown's announcement.

"Linda and Abbott Brown's additional gift of $500,000 was truly a surprise for the university," said CSUN President Jolene Koester. "Their announcement was a very moving and emotional moment, particularly for people with disabilities and their families who attended the groundbreaking. The university has contributed to improving the quality of life for many disabled individuals and this generous gift from the Browns will serve to further enhance the success and reach of the new center."

Suzanne Hackett, CSUN's director of major gifts and the CSUN Rising capital campaign, called Linda Brown's gesture "wonderful," noting that both Brown and her sister attended CSUN.

"It typifies the growing affection that our alums seem to have for our university," Hackett said. "They have gone on to distinguish themselves after graduation, and now are coming home and sharing their success so others will benefit. The Browns' leadership has gotten the attention of many others, and has set the example that we expect others to follow."

The Browns' Ridgestone Foundation made an initial gift of $1.5 million to the university for the construction of a new adaptive aquatic therapy center. The gift, which was announced last February, triggered the release of an additional $1 million in appropriated federal funds also intended for the center, which will be part of CSUN's Center of Achievement for the Physically Disabled.

Founded and directed by Britten, the Center of Achievement is recognized internationally for its success in rehabilitating people who have made little or no progress in other therapeutic programs.

The services of the Center of Achievement are directed by faculty members and assisted by university students who are training to become adaptive physical education instructors, physical therapists, chiropractors or medical doctors. Originally designed to serve CSUN's large disabled student population, the Center of Achievement has opened its doors to all and has provided services to more than 6,000 community members since 1978.

The addition of the therapeutic pools will help meet the specialized rehabilitation needs of paraplegics and persons with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis or joint and soft tissue injuries. With the addition of the pools, the Center of Achievement, for the first time in its history, will offer its services to children and adults unable to exercise in a conventionally weighted environment.

"The Adaptive Aquatic Therapy Center is a dream we've shared for many years, and I'm very excited to see it finally come true," Britten said. "Thanks to the generosity of so many of our friends, we at CSUN will be able to make improvements in the quality of life of so many more people."

California State University, Northridge has more than 27,000 full-time and part-time students and offers 48 bachelor's and 39 master's degrees. Founded in 1958, it is the only four-year university in the San Fernando Valley.

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