Friday, May 16, 2008

Day at the Races

May 15th, 2008 was the Day at the Races hosted by the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. The day started out by making the drive from NW Indiana to Indianapolis, which is only about two and a half hours away. Once we got there we all met in a parking lot outside the Indianapolis Speedway. The foundation handed out all of our credentials, passes, and a bag filled with all kinds of goodies.

We were then escorted to the infield parking lot and taken to the Green/Andretti hospitality tent for a complimentary lunch. San Schmidt spoke during lunch about his injury and the drive to keep going even after such a life changing event. The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation has set up a collage scholarship program for people with spinal cord injuries.

After hearing from Sam and the sponsors of the event, we got the chance to check out Sam's new van sponsored by VMI, and there was a meet and greet photo session with the Firehawk, James Davison, and Sam Schmidt. We got complimentary backpacks, hats, and t-shirts from UMP Urologicals.

Next we were taken to a wheelchair accessible bleacher area just before turn 2. The view is great from this area. We had the rest of the day to meander around the garage area, watch the time trials from the bleacher area, or from right behind the pits.
On behalf of the Northwest Indiana Spinal Cord Injury Group, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sam Schmidt, the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, and all off the volunteers and sponsors for the opportunity to attend the Day at the Races in Indianapolis.


Racing to Recovery

This has been a pretty busy week. Monday, May 12th, was the Racing to Recovery Gala hosted by the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation . It was an interesting experience. I am amazed at what some people can do and put together to raise money and awareness for worthy causes. The evening was filled with awards, and silent and live auctions. I wish I had been more familiar with some of the drivers, because many of them came out to support the Sam and the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation.

Here is a link to the Indy Car Coverage.

Pictures can be found at

If anyone is interested in attending this event next year, visit or contact the Northwest Indiana Spinal Cord Injury Group by email next April for more information. It is an evening worth checking out, especially for race fans.


Working 2 Walk 2008

Just 2 weeks ago, Working 2 Walk 2008 concluded with legislative visits on Capitol Hill. Since we left Washington, there have been more than 400 new spinal cord injuries in the United States. Over the last 2 weeks. approximately $575 million has been spent caring for people with chronic spinal cord injuries.* Have you taken 5-10 minutes out of the last 2 weeks to phone or email your Senator's office and ask him/her to cosponsor the CDRPA?

We heard the message repeatedly at Working 2 Walk. Our researchers are excited by discoveries in their labs as they push forward to solve the complex puzzle of restoring function in the spinal cord. The biggest hurdle now is "translation" of laboratory principles to human application. The field of spinal cord injury is especially stymied by lack of 1. Coordinated Research; 2. A Clinical Trial Network; and 3. Funding.

The CDRPA addresses 1 and 2, and passage is within our grasp. Yes it is being held up by one Senator's hold, but we can apply pressure NOT by attacking that Senator, but by PERSISTENTLY communicating with our home state Senator's office about the urgency of this bill and asking him/her to cosponsor. If he/she is already a cosponsor, ask them to reach out to a colleague.

Can you spare 5-10 minutes ONCE A WEEK to contact your Senator and explain why this bill is so important? That we have been working for its passage for over 4 years? That precious time has already been lost waiting for its passage? What advancing research and restoration of even one level of function might mean to you?

Ask your friends and family to help you. Senate offices DO keep track of how many contacts they receive on a particular issue. Program your Senator's phone number into your cell phone, and follow up with a call ONCE A WEEK to see if they've signed on to the bill. The Senate is in recess May 24-June 1. Look for a Town Hall meeting in your area or schedule an appointment if possible.

Nobody else will do this for us. The message of Working 2 Walk was that the CDRPA is an essential and urgent first step to get curative therapies on the road to human application. All of the information you need on the bill itself, how to contact your Senator, FAQ's, etc. is available on the U2FP CDRPA web page.

Let's swing into action and see if we can get over 50 cosponsors signed on by June 15 (we're at 33 right now)!

Marilyn Smith, President
Unite 2 Fight Paralysis

*Source: Spinal Cord Injury Information Center.

Working 2 Walk 2008

We can't say it enough. HUGE Thank You's to:

- Our wonderful researchers who took time out of their busy schedules to bring us up to date on progress in their labs;

- The army of volunteers who worked hundreds of hours to take care of all the details that made W2W such a success;

- Our generous and supportive partners and sponsors, without whom W2W would never be possible.

Kennedy Krieger Institute
Sci-Step Inc
Sam Schmidt Foundation
National Rehab Hospital
Acorda Therapeutics
Alseres Pharmaceuticals
Pride Mobility
Integra Foundation
Restorative Therapies
Project Walk
Craig Hospital
Push to Walk
Boston Medical
Next Steps Chicago