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Olney man overcame challenges to live a fulfilling life –

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

Brett Badin lived a short life, but one with purpose.

Whether it was working at his federal government job, cheering on his Special Olympics bowling teammates, or lobbying to preserve a neighborhood bus route, he made a difference in the lives of others.

Brett Badin, 32, died on Jan. 16 when he was crossing Rockville Pike in Rockville on the way to meet friends for dinner.

It was the third pedestrian fatality since the new year began, and the second within a 24-hour period on Rockville Pike. The fatalities came at a time when County Executive Marc Elrich named a full-time coordinator of the county’s Vision Zero program, designed to keep pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers safe.

Brett Badin grew up in Olney, survived by parents Mindy and Joe, sisters Holly and Jill, brother-in-law Tim Burnett, and many other friends and relatives.

Although he had special needs, he learned to live a productive life. He was living independently in Rockville and had worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for nearly 10 years.

“Brett had challenges in his life, and many believed that he would never be able to

live independently or be self-sufficient,” Mindy Badin said of her son. “But he proved them wrong, and he thrived. He was happy, content and confident in his own abilities. This is what every parent hopes for their children, and we couldn’t be prouder.”

From the time of his high school graduation he proved again and again that he could handle the challenges that life threw at him.

“He took classes at Montgomery College and learned to navigate the public transportation system,” Mindy Badin said. “This was the first time that he would be independent, without a parent or school staff closely supervising him. It was probably harder for us, letting him go. But we knew in our hearts that he could do it, and he did not disappoint.”

In 2009, the county considered cutting Ride On Route 53, which circulates through Olney neighborhoods to the Glenmont and Shady Grove Metro stations. It was Brett Badin’s primary mode of transportation from his home in Olney Mill to the college and his part-time job at the Executive Office Building in Rockville.

He testified before the County Council in order to keep the bus running. He and others were successful in preserving Route 53.

Mindy Badin said Brett was very well liked and involved in many organizations for people with disabilities, including Jubilee Association of Maryland, Special Olympics of Montgomery County, Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN), Potomac Community Resources and The Friendship Circle. He liked being social.

“All these organizations helped Brett to be independent, have friends and live a happy life,” Mindy Badin said. “We are so honored and privileged that Brett was a part of these families.”

Special Olympics bowling was his favorite, and his family planned vacations around his bowling season.

Debbie Fickenscher has volunteered as a director and coach with Montgomery County Special Olympics Bowling for over 18 years. Brett Badin was involved for 15 years.

“He was a lovely man who was very accomplished,” she said. “He lived a full life, had a great job, a great sense of humor and a lot of friends.”

A few years ago, Brett was awarded Special Olympics Bowling’s Inspirational Friend award, given to a person who “inspires others to be more than they thought they could be.”

“It is tragic that his life ended, but it is a testament to his parents that they gave him the opportunity to spread his wings and be all that he could be,” Fickenscher said.

Funeral services were held on Jan. 20.

Fickenscher said many turned out to pay their respects.

“It was like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the Montgomery County Special Needs community,” she said.


Three pedestrian fatalities reported in first month of 2020


At 6:33 p.m. Jan. 16., police officers from the 1st District, Rockville City Police Department, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel responded to Rockville Pike (Route 355) near Wootton Parkway for a report of a serious collision involving a pedestrian.

The preliminary investigation determined that a 2014 Honda Accord was traveling south on Rockville Pike approaching Wootton Parkway when for reasons still under investigation at press time the Accord struck Brett Badin, who was attempting to cross Rockville Pike in a westerly direction.

Brett Badin succumbed to his injuries at the scene. The man driving the car and an adult female passenger in the Honda were not injured in the incident.

Montgomery County Police spokeswoman Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti confirmed that in 2019, there were 13 fatal pedestrian collisions in the county, and as of Jan. 29, there were three thus far in 2020.

Police report that at approximately 8:41 p.m. Jan. 15, officers responded to the 12200 block of Rockville Pike for a personal injury collision. A 2011 Nissan Sentra was traveling south on Rockville Pike when the vehicle struck Michael Louis Gamboa, 40, of Gaithersburg, who was attempting to cross southbound Rockville Pike in an easterly direction.

Gamboa was transported to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

At 6:26 p.m. Jan. 6, a 2008 Honda Civic was traveling north on Georgia Avenue near the intersection of Aspen Hill Road when the vehicle struck Jose Renan Guillen, 75, of Olney, who was attempting to cross Georgia Avenue.

Guillen was transported to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

All three incidents were under investigation at press time.

On Jan. 7, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich introduced Wade Holland as the new full-time coordinator of the county’s Vision Zero program, designed to keep pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers safe.

The program, which involves numerous county departments and agencies, is dedicated to eliminating traffic-related fatalities and severe injuries by 2030.

Elrich on Jan. 15 presented to the County Council his recommended six-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) that includes $266.6 million for projects that directly relate to the Vision Zero program, including an increases of $9.3 million for pedestrian safety initiatives.

The council is planning a Vision Zero town hall meeting 2-4 p.m. Feb 9 at Wheaton High School, 12401 Dalewood Drive. The meeting will focus on pedestrian and bicycle safety and will provide an opportunity for residents to voice the safety issues they are encountering on roadways, sidewalks and crosswalks in Montgomery County.

In addition, council members continue to advocate for pedestrian and bicycle safety improvement projects throughout the county and have secured speed limit reductions on some state roads.


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