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Atlanta Physicians and Attorneys Play in Basketball Benefit for People with Brain Injury

An annual benefit basketball game, which pits attorneys against physicians to raise money for a program for people with brain injury, is scheduled for Saturday, March 16, at 7 p.m. at Decatur High School. The event also provides an opportunity for people to learn more about brain injury and organizations that help people who have sustained this type of injury to reintegrate into their communities.

The event, Jawbones (attorneys) vs. Sawbones (physicians), is hosted by Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse, which raised more than $25,000 in last year’s inaugural game. Founded in 1999 with support from Shepherd Center and Emory Healthcare, Side by Side is Georgia’s only nonprofit organization that supports people with brain injury along their rehabilitative journey after medical treatment has ended.  

Based in Stone Mountain, Ga., Side by Side operates a day program where its 50 members (half of whom are former Shepherd Center patients) and staff work together to operate their Clubhouse and support members as they relearn skills, rebuild relationships, and restore meaning and purpose to their lives. These services, though less costly than comparable medical care, require about $100 a day per person to provide support that is sometimes required for a lifetime. So, the Jawbones vs. Sawbones fundraiser provides much-needed financial support for the program. 

This year’s benefit, presented by Cash, Krugler & Fredericks, LLC, and Long & Holder, LLP, will also include a free throw contest, exciting half-time entertainment and a silent auction. Tickets to the event are $10 and are available online at or by calling 770-469-9355. 

More than 500 people attended last year’s event, and players – including Shepherd Center physicians Brock Bowman, M.D., and Andrew Dennison, M.D. – thoroughly enjoyed themselves, organizers said.  

“I had a great time with my teammates, who were all incredibly enthusiastic,” said Walter Wakwe, M.D., a general surgery resident and postdoctoral surgery research fellow at Emory. “The coaches were great and had every play planned out. For amateurs, our team was impressively athletic. I think it was this and our competitive spirit that kept us in the lead.” 

Though the game was close, the Sawbones beat their attorney opponents, and Dr. Wakwe, along with local attorney Seam Park, were recognized as their teams’ MVPs. Dr. Wakwe plans to return to defend his title in this year’s game. But Atlanta attorney and Side by Side Board President Jim Long, said, “This (defeat) will not happen again.”  

The real winners, though, are the Side by Side members who will benefit from the funds raised at the event, organizers said. Players from both sides see the significant need for the organization’s services and urge others to support the cause. 

“As a surgeon, I encounter brain injuries all too often,” Dr. Wakwe said. “They’re devastating. I see my patients with brain injuries through their acute recovery period. I understand rehabilitation continues for years after people leave my presence and even after their acute rehab has ended. Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse provides a unique service to people with brain injuries. It’s the last piece of my patients’ continuum of care. It really helps people improve. I think one of the biggest barriers to getting over this type of injury is your own self-doubt. Side by Side’s supportive environment truly helps every member overcome this obstacle.”  

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.