You’d like my friend John. You might even recognize him. He’s been coming to Working 2 Walk for a number of years now. Last year, in Miami, he rolled up to the hotel in his 3-wheeled Harley (remember him now?).
Most recently, John offered to help get our C.A.N. — Wisconsin initiative moving. He’s from a small town called Rio about 40 miles outside of Madison. As far as I can tell the town consists of a stop sign, a grocery store, and not much else.
As you might expect from a rural guy, John is easy-going and very hospitable. He’s invited me to stay with him the last two times I’ve been in Wisconsin, pushing for our legislative effort there to fund SCI research.
This last time I offered to take him out to dinner as thanks for saving me a hotel night. He suggested we go to the local Supper Club. As we drove there I told him how foreign this part of the country feels to me. I’ve spent my entire life in the cities of Philadelphia and Minneapolis.
Just before we went into the restaurant, he looked at me, smiled and said, “Just so you know, I probably know everybody in here”. And in fact, he did. There were about 30 people between the bar and the dining room, all of whom he chatted with or glad-handed.
While we were sipping our drinks, I told him that my wife and I had recently gone out to eat in one of the probably 300 places to choose from within a 5-mile radius of our home in Minneapolis. And everyone in the restaurant was a stranger whom I would likely never see again.
This contrast between John’s world and mine led me to an encouraging insight over the next few days: the diverse power of our movement.
Here I was, this “city mouse”, having dinner with this “country mouse”. Our day-to-day lives are very different. But we have been drawn together around one simple but shared goal: curing paralysis.
You might live in a “red” county, go deer hunting, and make venison jerky like John. Or, you might be an urban hipster, shopping at the fancy food co-op down the street in your “blue” neighborhood, and be addicted to almond milk lattes like me.
And yet — as we know all too well — spinal cord injury is no respecter of persons. Our economic status, political affiliation, color, creed, or gender (just to name a few), doesn’t exempt any of us.
- You may have been wrongly shot by a police officer (Leon); or been a police officer who was wrongly shot (Roberto).
- You may have been hit by a drunk driver (Sue); or been the drunk driver yourself (Brian).
- You may have fallen (John — yes this John); or been fallen upon (Lorraine).
- You may have been skiing for the 500th time (Bruce); or body surfing for the very first time (Gabe).
We come from all walks of life. And it’s going to require all of us — united — in order to, amongst many other things, walk again. We can do this. But only by raising our voices. Only by injecting the urgency we alone can bring. Only by holding the stakeholders accountable to the only goal that matters: relevant, curative treatments. For everybody — everywhere.
Executive Director, U2FP
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