United Spinal, MTA Host SCI Awareness Day

More than 300 people attended Spinal Cord Disability Awareness Day this past Tuesday, May 30, in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal in New York City. The free, all-day event was kicked off with the unveiling of MTA's new Map for Customers with Disabilities, followed by the presentation of a $250,000 check presented to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund by United Spinal and the Wounded Warrior Project.

The funds will support The Center for the Intrepid, also known as The National Armed Forces Physical Rehabilitation Center, a state-of-the-art rehabilitation and advanced training skills facility at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. The center will serve military personnel who have been catastrophically disabled in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other veterans who have sustained disabling injuries in the line of duty.

"Programs like the Wounded Warrior Project and the United Spinal Association have been instrumental in my recovery and the recovery of so many returning disabled soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Wounded Warrior Project spokesman Garth Stewart (Army Specialist, retired) who continues to stand a full 6 feet, 4 inches tall with the help of a prosthesis on his lower left leg. Stewart, who was injured in Baghdad in 2003, added, "Without the generous contributions made from the United Spinal Association, the Wounded Warrior Project wouldn't be what it is today. We are so proud to come together and present this donation to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and help them to continue providing necessary assistance to our nation's military heroes who have been critically injured in the performance of duty and who truly need help today." Stewart, along with Gerard M. Kelly, executive director for the United Spinal Association, presented the $250,000 check to Bill White, president of The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

Spinal Cord Disability Awareness Day was held in honor of United Spinal Association's 60th anniversary. The event provided an opportunity to team up with knowledgeable partners in the field of spinal cord injuries and disorders and provide valuable resources for people living with spinal cord injury or disorders, their families, caretakers and health care professionals. The event featured hands-on exhibits, health screening, veteran and civilian "benefit check-ups," free give-a-ways and more. Wheelchair users were offered free ballroom dance lessons by Wheelchair Dance Sport USA and wheelchair tune-ups by Wheelchair Medic. The crowds were also treated to performances by 4 Wheel City (a rap group of wheelchair users) and performances by Kitty Lunn and Alice Sheppard of the Infinity Dance Theater. Also on hand was one of the stars of the Academy Award nominated documentary "Murderball," Keith Cavill, who introduced the noon showing of the movie.

Among the organizations that joined United Spinal on May 30th were The Burke Rehabilitation Hospital; Helen Hayes Hospital; National MS Society-NYC Chapter; Mount Sinai Hospital; Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Corporation. The MTA also had representatives on hand to assist seniors and persons with disabilities in applying for reduced-fare MetroCards and services from Access-A-Ride. The MTA also distributed its new map for customers with disabilities and the MTA Guide to Accessible Transit.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, United Spinal Association is a national membership organization for people with spinal cord disabilities.

Source: United Spinal Association

This article originally appeared in the June 2006 issue of HME Business.

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