Speakers for the 2019 Phoenix World Burn Congress

Stay Strong, Finish Strong – The Flames That Made Me Stronger

Israel "DT" Del Toro Jr. explores the power of bravery in the face of adversity, staying motivated, and developing the perseverance that will get you to your destination. Only a few short years after his life –threating accident, DT achieved his goal of becoming the first 100-percent combat disabled Air Force technician to re-enlist, proving once again what one can achieve with steadfast tenacity and determination. In his speech, DT seeks to eliminate the stigma associated with disabilities, and prove that with perseverance, no obstacles are insurmountable.

In 2005 while serving in the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan, Senior Master Sgt. Israel “DT” Del Toro was following routine orders when his Humvee rolled over a buried pressure-plate mine and exploded. The blast severed most of his fingers and left him in a coma for nearly three months, with burns covering the majority of his body. He was given a 15% chance of survival, but Del Toro defied the odds and made a miraculous recovery. During his rehabilitation, Del Toro was introduced to adaptive sports as a therapeutic outlet and it quickly became something he excelled at. He eventually set world records in shot put, discus, and javelin and won a gold medal at The 2016 Invictus Games. For his perseverance and commitment to his country, Senior Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro received The Pat Tillman Award for Service at The 25th ESPYS Presented by Capital One in 2017.


Happiness through Gratitude, Compassion, and Forgiveness

Learn how happiness can be enhanced by practicing the qualities of gratitude, compassion and forgiveness. Understand the role each plays in emotional well-being and how, when applied synergistically, their impact is enhanced and many of life’s difficulties can be managed more effectively. 

Fred Luskin, Ph.D. is a senior consultant in health promotion at Stanford University, a professor at the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, and an affiliate faculty member of the Greater Good Science Center. Dr. Luskin serves as Director of the Stanford Forgiveness Projects, an ongoing series of workshops and research projects that investigate the effectiveness of his forgiveness methods on a variety of populations. The forgiveness project has successfully explored forgiveness therapy with people who suffered from the violence in Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, and the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. His work has been successfully applied and researched in corporate, medical, legal and religious settings. He is the author of Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happinessand Stress Free for Good: Ten Proven Life Skills for Health and Happiness, with Kenneth Pelletier, Ph.D.


Live Life to the Fullest

Despite their burn injuries, Cindy Rutter and Derrick Green both live their lives to the fullest. You can’t change what happened to you, but you do have the opportunity to change your future! Cindy and Derrick will share their approach to living beyond surviving a burn injury. Learn how to forge ahead despite challenges, roller coasters, and speed bumps in your path. With perseverance, good relationships, mentoring, and giving back, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to after a burn injury.

Cindy Rutter, BSN, MFTI,has been an advocate for Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and involved in the burn community for more than 35 years. She recently completed her master’s degree to become a marriage and family therapist. Cindy met Derrick Greenin 1999, when she was his burn nurse at UCSD Burn Center, after he sustained a 90% burn injury. They formed an incredible relationship that lasts to this day. This year, Cindy celebrates 60 years of life after burns and Derek celebrates 20.