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Halpert Honored by the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors

August 21, 2013

Varnum personal injury attorney Richard L. Halpert has been selected to receive the 2013 Alan and Delwyn Breslau Award from the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, a leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering anyone affected by a burn injury.

The award is the highest distinction the Phoenix Society can bestow. It honors a member who has significantly enhanced the ability of the Society to fulfill its mission of peer support, education and advocacy. Notification of the award came from President Patrick C. Horan, who noted Halpert's "enthusiastic and visionary service to the Society."

Halpert has been a strong advocate for survivors of severe burn injury for more than 30 years, in both his legal practice as well as through his personal efforts with organizations such as the Phoenix Society and various burn injury prevention programs.

"Your decades of work have helped thousands of burn survivors and the people who love them to begin to live again," Horan stated. "Your dedication to the work of the Phoenix Society – from being an integral part of the board of directors to helping shape the Phoenix Society's mission statement – and your tireless work representing burn survivors in a legal capacity is appreciated and admired by the entire organization."

The letter also referenced Halpert's generosity which "continues to allow us to provide high quality programs to burn survivors and their families. You have been an inspiration to many who are just beginning to recover and are a model of how to live a life that is enriched by compassionate service to others."

Fellow attorney Steve Weston, Halpert's longtime law partner, said the award is well deserved.

"The Phoenix Society has made an excellent choice in their selection of Rick for this honor," said Weston. "Having worked with Rick for almost 30 years, I could cite numerous examples of his dedication to helping burn survivors."

Weston recalled one such example that occurred almost 20 years ago and which has had a lasting influence on him personally. Because the two often work with clients in hospital burn units, they actively support burn camps for children. In 1994, the closest camp was Camp Courage in Minnesota.

"Rick was not only was instrumental in helping establish the Great Lakes Burn Camp in Michigan, but he and his wife, Mary, personally chaperoned a dozen child burn survivors to the camp in Minnesota when no medical staff were available to do so," Weston said. "To me, that generous gift of time and compassion speaks volumes about Rick's character and his personal commitment to helping patients heal. I'm proud to have worked beside him for almost 30 years."

Halpert will officially receive the award at the Phoenix Society's World Burn Congress, to be held in October in Rhode Island. The Phoenix Society was founded by Alan Breslau, who was extensively burned in the crash of a commercial airliner in 1963. Following a visit to a young boy in a burn center, he realized the importance of peer support for those with burn injuries and went on to establish one of the first burn support organizations in the United States.

Halpert is one of four attorneys who recently joined Varnum from the Kalamazoo-based Halpert, Weston & Sawusch law firm, which has been a strong advocate and supporter of the burn injury community for more than 20 years.

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