Award Recognizes the Achievements of a Person with a Disability who has Attained a High Level of Independence, Self-Reliance, and Self-Sufficiency in the Community
Anthony Lonergan, a systems engineer at J.Lodge, a Cognosante company, was honored with the Chuck Wood Memorial Award on Thursday, October 18, 2018, at the Iowa Rehabilitation Association Annual Conference Awards Banquet. He was selected to receive this award for his dedication and success in achieving his career goals. Anthony is wheelchair-bound as a result of living with muscular dystrophy, a rare group of inherited diseases causing muscle weakness and degeneration. In his acceptance speech, Anthony stated, “I couldn’t be more honored to be receiving this award, and for me, this is an example of the might of a determined and humble outlook.”
Earlier this year, J.Lodge’s Information Services department was met with an urgent need for additional support. A standard practice at J.Lodge, they turned internally to their team of quality analysts to find the right candidate. During an extensive search for individuals with a unique skillset, Anthony was recommended as someone who could succeed in a rigorous part-time position.
At the time, Anthony had some anxiety about meeting the expectations defined within the position; however, those concerns were promptly laid to rest by Christy Wilson, J.Lodge Vice President of Field Operations. Christy verbalized high praise for Anthony, complimenting his work ethic, habits, and ability to fulfill the technical requirements of the job. “Christy’s recommendation convinced me beyond a doubt that Anthony was the perfect fit and gave him the reassurance he needed to accept the position,” said Christopher Landolfi, J.Lodge Director of Information Services.
In his new part-time role, Anthony quickly earned the trust and respect of the team. He displayed a rare ability to not only take on difficult projects, but to also resolve issues without needing direction, and provide valuable feedback to avoid future difficulties. “Overcoming obstacles felt natural and right for me, considering the literal and figurative obstacles posed by my condition that I’ve had no choice but to overcome,” Anthony stated. These abilities, coupled with his strong communication skills, led to him being asked to join the team in a full-time capacity.
Accepting a full-time offer wasn’t an easy choice to make for Anthony stability-wise and financially-speaking. A transition to full-time work would increase his income, impacting his eligibility for disability benefits—benefits he relied on to support his daughter. Anthony decided to accept the offer, because “it was the right thing to do.” Much of his decision was influenced by his daughter, and the aspiration to give her the life she deserves. The opportunity with J.Lodge opened Anthony up to future advancement opportunities and allowed him to move closer to her—a move that was very important to him.
Despite being wheelchair-bound, Anthony has established himself as a valuable asset to J.Lodge, and one that they certainly don’t want to lose. “The inspiring thing about him is that he doesn’t seem to view his hardship as anything more than something he just deals with,” said Landolfi. “He doesn’t let his physical limitations hold him back.” Instead, he finds ways to overcome them and doesn’t allow any obstacles to stand in his way. It’s been no surprise that Anthony has continued to advance in his career by following through with the goals that he sets. “With the correct group of people, communication, and vision, you can change the world,” said Anthony.