Below are a few links to some recent media stories that have been released over the duration of the campaign highlighting "Against All Odds - The Journey to New Mobility " These stories have helped continue to spread the message far and wide. Thank you to everyone for all that you are doing to help spread the message!
January 21, 2008 my world completely changed. I was 18 years old and just two months away from turning 19, I had just graduated high school the previous June and in a moment everything I knew changed. I walked into a medical clinic to receive an epidural injection for back pain and I never walked out. I walked in a healthy 18-year-old girl full of life and hope for what my future would offer and instead of walking out that afternoon I was admitted to the hospital because I had lost all feeling and movement from my belly button down; I was paralyzed. It has been over five years since that day and I haven’t walked since that morning.
For months I was determined that I would walk again until all the sudden the reality set in that I was paralyzed and I would never walk again. I dreamed of what it would be like to put one foot in front of the other again, what it would be like to be able to simply stand up, to walk into a room and see my loved ones eye to eye. I have dreamed of that day for years and here I am over five years later and I am ready to make that dream a reality but I can’t do it alone; I need your help.
As I have worked on putting this campaign together it has been very hard for me to put it into words. My biggest struggle is how do you vocalize a dream that is so incredibly simple? For 18 years of my life I walked, I stood, I ran, I did all of it and I never thought twice about it, it was so incredibly simple. Now here I am and it is one of my biggest dreams, something that for over 18 years of my life was second nature. That memory of walking has faded for me, at times it feels so distant that it is hard to imagine that I ever did walk.
Now over five years later, I have decided that it is time to beat the odds and redefine mobility. When I was paralyzed doctors, society and everything around me told me that I would have to learn to move about on four wheels and that was that, but that isn’t it, there are other options. Options that allow me to stand up right, options that allow me to “walk” into a room and see my loved ones eye to eye for the first time in five years. This is a dream that I have had for years but I have been fearful to chase. I was diagnosed a T10 complete paraplegic (meaning I have no feeling or function from about my belly button down). I guess for me I never thought it was possible for me to get up and walk again but I was wrong, I can and I will but I need your help to do it.
This Is What It Takes
Now many of you may be asking yourself how is a girl who is paralyzed going to get up and walk? Well, that is a very good question. I have been diagnosed as a T10 complete paraplegic and my condition is stable and has been for the past five years. My doctors have informed me that I will not regain function and that is not the purpose of going into this program at Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan. What I will be doing though is learning how to use what I do have in my upper body to move my legs forward. I will be fitted with leg braces that will lock out my knee joints out and fix my ankles at 90 degrees and then I will use my core and upper body to “swing” my legs forward. I will also be using either forearm crutches or a walker to stabilize myself. Now, this isn’t the graceful one foot in front of another that I used to do, however, it is still me up right on my feet moving towards something.
Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover the costs. In order for me to achieve this dream of new mobility, this dream of “walking” I will be relocating to Detroit for an extended period of time (at least 4 weeks) to work with the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan. In order to do this I need to raise $50,000. That money will go to cover the customized leg braces, the program costs (since my insurance doesn’t cover them) and costs associated with my stay in Detroit throughout this process.
I know that $50,000 is a lot of money but I don’t want to stop there. Although my goal is listed at $50,000 I want to raise beyond that. I don’t just want to raise enough for me to walk, I want to raise enough so I can grant money out to other individuals like myself so they too can afford to chase their dream of new mobility. Even if that means it is just one other person I want to know that this message and story went beyond me.
Five years ago after I was paralyzed I created a dream, a dream of Paralympic Gold. I grew up a competitive swimmer, I actually started swimming competitively at the age of 7 and when I was paralyzed at 18 I thought my days of swimming were over. Less then 4 months after my paralysis I got back in the water and I created that dream, a dream that many said was impossible, until September 2, 2012 when I sat on the podium in London and saw our flag raised and heard the United States of America's national anthem play as I was presented with my gold medal. That day I put all the doubters to rest. That day I had achieved a dream of mine, but I didn’t do it alone. I had a world of supporters behind me that allowed me to achieve that dream and this dream is very similar. I have had people tell me everything that I won’t do again, one of the most obvious is that I will never walk again, but they are wrong and this is our chance to prove that. This is our chance to give other individuals the hope that they too can walk someday. This is our chance to leave an impact, to make a difference and to change the world.
I grew up with a father that told my sisters and I, “You are the best. You can make a difference. You can change the world.” Over the past five years I have taken those words to heart. Those words are what motivate me to do what I do on a daily basis and throughout this campaign I truly believe that we all have the ability to do just that.
It is my goal to keep all of you informed and as this campaign unfolds continue to share my story with you. I have created a blog that I will be posting on a couple times a week throughout the campaign and beyond.
I know this may seem simple, it may even seem small to some but the freedom that comes with being able to simply stand up and place on foot in front of the other is something that I have learned first hand we can’t take for granted. It is so easy to get wrapped up in life and forget about the little things but it is my hope that if anything this allows everyone to slow down, even if for just five minutes and take it all in, appreciate the little things, because you never know when it can all change.
So please help me in making this dream come true for me and others out there like myself. Help us enjoy the simplest joy of walking.
Other Ways You Can Help
Every dollar counts and is greatly appreciated but it doesn’t stop there. Please, I ask all of you, whether you are able to donate or not to spread the word. Pass this along to your family, friends, post it on Facebook, Tweet it and hastag #againstallodds, share far and wide and help me spread the message, and of course thoughts and prayers are always appreciated because I can’t do this alone.
The amount of gratitude that I have for each and every person that is reading this page is beyond anything I may ever be able to put into words but THANK YOU! I never thought I would have the ability to dream of walking again and the overwhelming love and support from people far and wide, from individuals that I don’t even know is so incredibly humbling and I can’t thank you enough.
So please pass along the word and be sure to follow this page and my blog for updates along the way.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
The proceeds raised in this campaign go to help myself learn how to walk with leg braces and arm crutches for the first time since my paralysis in 2008. The $50,000 will go towards paying for the customized braces, program costs and living expenses that go with relocating from Minnesota to Detroit while I am in the program at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan. Unfortunately, insurance doesn't cover these costs so that is why I am asking all of you for your support. Although my goal is listed at $50,000 I would like to raise an excess so I can help other's like myself achieve their dreams of new moblity.
Note, if you donate through PayPal your donation IS tax deductible.
Also note, if you are a business or an organization and you're interested in supporting this campaign, but you wish to inquire regarding other options please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org