When something tragic happens like a spinal cord injury, friends and family often feel helpless. It can be difficult seeing someone you love become paralyzed, which is why many come together to form spinal cord injury foundations, either to raise money for research or to help make the quality of life better for people living with SCI.
I recently was introduced to the Morton Cure Paralysis Fund. They asked me to be their honoree for 2016. I was blown away by the honor. They wanted to honor me for my work promoting spinal cord injury research over my 13+ years as a writer. I wasn’t sure at first why they thought I had done so much, and then I remembered all of the rallies I’ve attended and articles I’ve written about research.
The entire experience was great because I was introduced to a paralysis foundation right in my home-state. I’m embarrassed to say I wasn’t involved with this organization in any way until now. They are doing so much that it’s a bit crazy it took me so long to become connected with them. Their back story is pretty great. The foundation is named after Peter Morton, who was injured when he was 33 years old in a bicycle accident while heading to work in downtown Minneapolis. He became a C1 ventilator-dependent quadriplegic in the fall.
After his injury, his friends from all of the corporate echelons he was part of came together to found the Morton Paralysis Cure Fund, a foundation dedicated to raising money for spinal cord injury researchers across the country. Over the past 21 years they have doled out millions of dollars to researchers, which in turn have allowed them to get more research grants. What they do is get the research ball rolling in many places.
Last Thursday was their annual golf fundraiser where all of Peter’s old friends come together to raise money. It is a great event that has become a tradition, and I was lucky to speak to these great guys and gals. Peter is also married to his longtime wife Krista, who I met. The two married before his injury and they have remained strong. They also had two children after his injury who were also in attendance at the event. It was great to see the kids hanging on his wheelchair like it was no big deal.
The foundation is even more interesting when you realize that Peter’s mother, Dr. Patricia Morton, is a spinal cord injury researcher herself. Now that is one cool mom. Dr. Morton wasn’t interested in spinal cord injury research until Peter had his bicycle accident, but she now works with Dr. Wise Young in Taiwan helping with his research on chronically injured individuals.
I had 10 minutes to speak to the crowd last Thursday at the clubhouse. All of the golfers were in good spirits, and I decided to go off script. I wanted to speak from the heart and inspire them that the research happening right now was exciting, and it was a success! I talked about the epidural stimulation happening in Dr. Susan Harkema‘s lab, and I also talked about the recent embryonic stem cell injections at Keck Research Hospital in California. So much is happening. It is a medically promising time to be alive!
I encourage each and everyone of you to check out the Morton Cure Paralysis Fund. As I told the golfers, don’t do it for me; do it for Peter, for the kids with new injuries, for those without any movement who deserve something more. I also encourage you to get involved with any SCI foundation near you when you can.
Check them out: mcpf.org
How does volunteering with a foundation feed your soul?
Photo courtesy of Tiffiny Carlson