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Bryon Riesch Connects Ability to Career Path

Milwaukee Man Named Goodwill’s Graduate of the Year

ROCKVILLE, MD — (MARKET WIRE) — 05/05/2004 — Each year, Goodwill Industries International honors an outstanding person who has completed a Goodwill Industries career program and is now competitively employed by a non-Goodwill employer in his community. The winner of the Goodwill Industries Graduate of the Year Award is Bryon Riesch of Milwaukee, WI.

Bryon Riesch refuses to be a statistic.

A debilitating accident from a backyard water slide left him with C-4 Quadriplegia at age 19, just when his college years were beginning. Like the estimated 250,000-400,000 individuals with spinal cord injuries in the U.S. today, Riesch faced a tough choice. Succumb to becoming just a faceless statistic or turn tragedy into something positive. He chose the latter.

Riesch returned to college the very next semester, and in 2002, graduated from a prestigious private college in Wisconsin with a 3.4 GPA and double majors in information technology and marketing. A year before he graduated, Riesch learned of Ability Connection, a career services program of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin (Milwaukee).

Ability Connection gave Riesch what college couldn’t — a sense that anything was possible. Goodwill staff helped Riesch design an individual career plan that outlined the job-seeking skills he needed to enter the workforce. They also helped him earn an internship at Northwestern Mutual, where he put his IT skills and enthusiasm to good use. Just six months later, he transitioned from intern to full-time programmer/analyst.

“Goodwill offers people with the resources they need to succeed in the workplace, but the real work comes from the individual who makes the conscious decision to want to change his own life,” says George W. Kessinger, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries International.

Riesch’s strong affinity for others with spinal cord injuries led him to create the Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation, which helps fund spinal cord injury research, raising over $300,000 through annual golf outings.

Teresa Remondino, Deputy Support Director at Northwestern Mutual, says, “Bryon reminds us in action and word that great things can happen with the single effort of one person that cares.”

Contact: Christine Nyirjesy Bragale, ABC Director, Media Relations Tel. (240) 333-5264

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