Davidson College Reunion Weekend

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April 29, 2000

John W. Kuykendall Community Service Award winner Martin Foil '55 flanked by President Vagt and Alumni Association President Andy McElwee.

Born and raised just down the road from Davidson, into a family long-steeped in the tradition of Davidson College, Martin Foil's journey of service has taken him far from Davidson and back home again.

In 1984, his youngest child Philip, then 16, was driving home from Concord High School when a car crossed the center line and collided with his car. As a result of severe head injuries, he lay in a coma for 114 days. When he awoke, he and his family faced the hard reality of a lifetime of rehabilitation and care.

In the years immediately following this accident, Martin directed his energy to Philip's rehabilitation. Reaching outward beyond his personal grief over his son's injuries, he realized that there are tens of thousands of people who sustain life-long disabling conditions from brain injuries, who often fall through the cracks of the nation's medical system. His first efforts at advocacy for these people were through the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina, which he helped rebuild as its acting president.

Recognizing that the problems facing people with brain injuries were not confined to North Carolina, he joined the National Brain Injury Association, which has as its mission the promotion of awareness, understanding, and prevention of brain injury with the goals of reduced incidence and improved outcomes of children and adults with brain injuries. He became chairman in 1992 and gave top priority to passing legislation aimed at funding programs to research and prevent brain injuries. In July 1996, Congress passed and President Clinton signed a bill, which authorized $15 million in research grants for the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of brain injuries and allotted an addition $9 million for the Center for Disease Control to monitor brain injuries. In 1999, he received the Brain Injury Association's most prestigious award, the Philip L. Lance Award for Public Awareness of Brain Injury.

Though one might think Martin had done a lifetime of service through these efforts, he was not ready to rest. Because the effects of brain injury do not respect national boundaries, he spearheaded the effort to create the International Brain Injury Association. Meetings attracting upwards of a thousand people have been held all over the world. He lends the Brain Injury Association not only his leadership skills but his fund-raising skills as well, through elegant annual balls and golf tournaments.

The most recent evolution of his drive to make a difference in the lives of people with brain injuries, this time a step closer to home, is Hinds' Feet Farm. The name derives from Habbukuk 3:19: "God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds' feet, he makes me tread upon my high places." Work, supervised by his son Marty, Davidson Class of 1985, is underway to transform this thirty-eight acre farm in Huntersville into a state-of-the-art residential facility for people with brain injuries.

Because you tread upon your high places; because you are a devoted son, father, husband, and churchman; because you have made the lives of people with brain injury better all over the world; and because you make Davidson proud to claim you as her own, the Davidson College Alumni Association proudly honors you, Martin Boger Foil, Jr., with the John W. Kuykendall Award for Community Service, on the occasion of the Class of 1955's 45th Reunion, April 29, 2000.

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