Episode 61: Badgering Wisconsin for a Cure Guests: Samantha Troyer & Jake Beckstrom
Jason and Matthew talk with Samantha Troyer, an SCI peer mentor in Wisconsin who joined up with U2FP’s Cure Advocacy Network (CAN) to become a legislative advocate there. Sam is joined by our CAN Manager, Jake Beckstrom. We talk about the current effort to pass an SCI research funding Bill in Wisconsin, its attendant ups and downs, unique challenges, the perseverance required for this work, and the power of our shared SCI story.
We wanted to give you an inside look at our advocacy efforts, in a state where we have a bill in play right now. This work to pass SCI funding at the state level is difficult and satisfying, as you’ll hear. These SCI research funding bills are unique in that they require our community’s voice at the table where funding decisions are made. And right now, we need your voice more than ever in Wisconsin. Consider writing a letter of support for our bill, or showing up in person at the Wisconsin capital to testify; more info here. Let’s help our advocates in Wisconsin get this thing done.
Samantha Troyer is grateful to have survived a serious car accident 15 years ago, even though she came back a quadriplegic. After her spinal cord injury (C1/2) and rehab at the Froedtert Medical College of Wisconsin, Sam decided to become an SCI peer mentor there. Sam wanted to help share the strength she learned from surviving trauma on to others who have suffered an SCI. This work as an SCI peer mentor motivated Sam to find more ways to advocate for a better future for members of the SCI Community - which is why she joined U2FP’s Wisconsin CAN in their push to pass an SCI research funding bill. Working to improve the quality of life for herself and others with an SCI maximizes her gratitude for life and minimizes the pain she endures daily. Sam knows that some people view a quadriplegic brimming with gratitude as ‘weird’, but that’s ok. Heck, she thinks it’s awesome she’s sometimes seen as weird. Sam believes she was born weird and that she is doing what she was meant to do.
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Jake Beckstrom is from Watertown, Minnesota. At the age of 16, Jake had a diving accident in a backyard pool and sustained a C4-6 spinal cord injury. A lifelong love of hunting, fishing, and the outdoors led him to pursue a path of environmental sustainability. He received a B.S. in Environmental Science at Southwest Minnesota State University, and in 2015, he received a law degree and master's degree in Environmental Law and Policy at Vermont Law School. Jake is eager to use his experience in public policy and advocacy to work with the Cure Advocacy Network to lobby for smarter spinal cord injury research funding and find a cure for paralysis.