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You helped me take those historic steps

 
Rob Summers

Thanks to you, I can now stand and fully support my own weight for an hour and half at a time.

Support the Reeve Foundation

Caring people like you helped me do something that literally no person had ever done before.

I became the first person living with complete quadriplegia to ever stand and take steps with support again, thanks to a historic scientific breakthrough supported by the Reeve Foundation and visionary people like you.

While I was so proud of my accomplishment, I am doubly proud that my progress has meant that I won't be the last.

This breakthrough has bolstered the hopes of so many people like me who work so hard every day to get healthier, get stronger, and take new steps. But I know that we still have a long ways to go -- and we won't get there without your support.

That's why I want to ask you to make your tax-deductible holiday gift right now.

Before I was struck by a hit-and-run driver and paralyzed, I was a pitcher for Oregon State University and, some say, on track for the Major Leagues. That had been my goal since I was a little kid. I didn't consider myself the most talented player, but I prided myself on working the hardest.

So after my accident, when my goal changed from becoming a professional baseball player to just walking onto the field again, I went after it with the same determination. My family and I looked for the most rigorous physical therapy program available -- and that's what led me to the Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) and Dr. Susan Harkema , a scientist at the University of Louisville.

Dr. Harkema and her team selected me to be the first person for an experimental intervention that combines epidural stimulation with aggressive Locomotor Training. I had an epidural stimulator, which excites the nerve cells in my cord, implanted over the spinal cord in my lower back. On just the third day after the stimulator was turned on, I was able to stand up under my own power.

Since then, I have recovered voluntary control of movement in my toes, ankles, knees, and hips. I have also regained control over my body temperature and bowel, bladder, and sexual function, which has made a huge difference in my quality of life.

These remarkable results were achieved by the continual direct stimulation of my spinal cord in combination with extensive Locomotor Training on a treadmill.

I'm excited to report that two more people have now had the epidural stimulation surgery and Locomotor Training and are seeing similar results. The challenge now is to refine this treatment and bring it to clinical trials, so it can be made available to everyone who could benefit from it.

But to meet that challenge -- and keep so much other promising research moving forward -- I'm asking you to urgently make your special online contribution to help more people like me.

Epidural stimulation is not a "cure-all" for paralysis. But the Reeve Foundation believes it is the first in a series of historic breakthroughs that will lead to cures for spinal cord injuries, and change the health, function and quality of life of the 5.6 million Americans living with some form of paralysis.

With your support, it's a matter of when, not if, we find the cures.

Thank you for all that you have done for me and my family, and best wishes to you and yours this holiday season.

Rob Summers

Sincerely,
Rob Summers

Rob Summers

PS: My future -- and the future of everyone living with spinal cord injuries -- depends on your support for the research, clinical trials, and rehabilitation centers that are funded and led by the Reeve Foundation. Therefore, in the spirit of the holiday season, please make your most generous year-end gift today.