“What I do is based on powers we all have inside us; the ability to endure; the ability to love, to carry on, to make the best of what we have – and you don’t have to be a ‘Superman’ to do it.” – Christopher Reeve
It has been a very eventful week since I shared my story about meeting Bruce Springsteen. My Journal posting generated a tremendous outpouring of support from Springsteen fans around the world! In addition to being re-posted, re-tweeted, mentioned on numerous other blogs and featured in The Plain Dealer, it was also the topic of church sermons this past Sunday. Several people from different parishes across the country sent me notes informing me that my story was relayed to them by their pastor as part of their Sunday worship. I was even able to listen to one of the sermons that was given at a church in Brooklyn, New York (by clicking on this audio link).
Additionally, I have experienced the generosity of others through donations, purchases of my awareness bracelet and gifts including books and even a relic of the Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos. I am truly humbled by the attention my experience generated. However, I am even more excited about the awareness it has raised for individuals living with a spinal cord injury. The buzz surrounding my encounter with a worldly rockstar will soon end, but unfortunately, the reality of living with a spinal cord will not. Thus, I will continue to do everything I can to create and maintain awareness and focus on SCI’s.
Earlier this week I was invited to MetroHealth hospital to meet with some folks from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation who were in town to learn about all of the FES (functional electrical stimulation) technology being developed in Cleveland. Besides myself having the opportunity to demonstrate the cough assist device I use, there were others showing off their ability to move fingers, arms and even walk as a result of FES implants. It was quite remarkable to witness all of this firsthand.
One of the guests I had the good fortune to spend some time with was Dr. Susan Harkema, who is the research director at the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center. If her name sounds familiar, it is because she is a pioneer in the field of locomotor training and has been intimately involved in two recent high-profile stories featuring Rob Summers and Janne Kouri. Locomotor training involves an individual being placed into a harness and suspended over a treadmill while therapists move each of the legs to replicate walking. This type of gait training has proved extremely effective when repeated on a daily basis over a period of months. It is something I have been eager to get involved in. Fortunately, this type of rehab may soon be implemented at Buckeye Wellness Center.
Regarding my physical therapy workouts, this past week my sessions concentrated on standing, trunk strengthening/balancing and upper body weight bearing. Needless to say, I have been very sore and tired from the intense exercises, but also encouraged by the progress I continue to make on a weekly basis. I am very excited about the opportunity to help others be able to benefit from this same type of therapy, once my foundation is launched. I keep hoping to hear something soon from the IRS, but realistically know that it will be a few more months until I am officially 501(c)(3)-certified and can begin raising money to provide physical therapy scholarships to deserving individuals.
My dad and I are getting ready to watch the NFL draft shortly, so I won’t be as long-winded as usual with this blog posting! I remain so very thankful for all of the wonderful things I have in my life as well as the new friendships I continue to make on a daily basis. I feel very fortunate and blessed to be in the position I am and extremely grateful for the opportunity I have been given to help others. Although none of it would be possible without the help and benevolence I receive from all of you!