My name is Jamie Clare. In 1991, I was spinally injured in an automobile accident and am now a T-12 paraplegic. My family and I were traumatized by the news of my paralysis and overwhelmed by the enormity of the changes we were facing. In searching for a way to move forward, we made contact with The Alan T Brown Foundation to Cure Paralysis (ATBF).
It may sound like an exaggeration, but meeting Alan Brown and becoming involved with the Foundation changed my life and my attitude about being disabled.
Alan was not interested in swapping stories about being in a wheelchair; he wanted to talk about the things that interested people of our age. Alan took me “under his wing” and our friendship flourished. Thus began my introduction to the ATBF Peer Mentoring Program — what I now recognize as a major turning point in my life.
I am grateful to say that Alan’s love of life rubbed off on me and, inspired by his example, I have worked to live to the fullest. Today, I am an attorney with a top law firm, have recently married and am enjoying being a father to two wonderful daughters. I drive, stay active by swimming, sailing and playing golf in the ATBF Tournament, and have achieved national ranking in wheelchair tennis.
It would be remiss of me to paint a perfect picture, however. Facing each day in a wheelchair has moments of hardship, personally and publicly. It takes determination and courage to ride out the rough patches. A strong support system is essential, and that’s just what the Foundation is — a crucial resource for people like me. During the years since my injury, my family and I have turned to ATBF time and again for information and a helping hand. The Foundation’s commitment to me remains constant and continues to have a profound impact on how I live my life. As an active member of the ATBF Peer Mentoring program, I am now perpetuating the cycle of assistance by reaching out to others who are just beginning the process of reentering society after an injury.
The Alan T Brown Foundation has helped me regain a part of myself that I thought was gone forever…my love of life. If ATBF gave nothing else to the disabled, this would be enough. But we – as Foundation friends and supporters — know that it provides so much more. ATBF is supporting research to find a cure for spinal injuries and forging lifelines for those affected by paralysis, enabling me and countless others to move forward, despite being stationary in a chair.