In 1993 at the age of 16, I suffered a spinal cord injury. As a C-5 – C-6 quadriplegic, I was thrust into a traumatic and challenging period of my life. It was then I met Alan and Fran Brown, who were among the first SCI families that contacted me. This was the beginning of my involvement with the Alan T Brown Foundation to Cure Paralysis (ATBF). This relationship and Alan’s positive attitude had a profound impact on me. Learning about Alan’s post-injury accomplishments gave me hope and was instrumental in helping me move forward.
Facing each day in a wheelchair has moments of hardship. It takes determination and courage to overcome the often overwhelming obstacles. ATBF’s Peer Mentoring Program has been my strong support system, providing me with the resources to make the transition into leading an independent life, laying the groundwork for my adjustment to daily routines, to work and to the pursuit of my greatest passion: travel.
Where to travel? One of my biggest fears was that my travel would be restricted to the United States due to accessibility issues. However, I was determined to keep my hunger for adventure alive. Since my injury I have traveled to many countries- Brazil, Scotland, Russia, and Turkey, just to name a few. This summer I spent close to three weeks in Botswana and South Africa. I witnessed nature in its true form. My photographs and memories of this trip are a testament to the most amazing adventure I have experienced to date.
As an active member of the ATBF Peer Mentoring Program I am perpetuating the cycle of assistance by reaching out and giving back. Personalized and scientific support is the primary mission of ATBF. For 18 years, scientists, researchers and institutions worldwide have been the recipients of ATBF funding.