Goal is to expand mentoring of those living with paralysis across Florida

Short Hills, NJ (June 28, 2012) The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation today announced it has partnered with Brooks Rehabilitation in Jacksonville, Florida to help launch the Reeve Foundation's Peer & Family Support Program (PFSP) in the state. By partnering with Brooks, which has been providing mentoring since 2002 , both organizations have a common goal of expanding mentoring across the state of Florida and the Southeast region. The PFSP is a national peer-to-peer mentoring program that utilizes the real life experiences of those that are thriving while living with paralysis.

The mission of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation's PFSP is to provide critical emotional encouragement, as well as, local and national information and resources to people living with paralysis, and their families and caregivers. Mentors empower people living with paralysis, including our service men and women, their families and caregivers, to achieve a healthy and full life.

This program will match people seeking assistance with a Reeve Foundation Certified Mentor who will be of similar age, gender, level of injury, ethnicity and location when possible. Throughout the process both the client and the Reeve Mentor will have access to all of the resources the Reeve Foundation's Paralysis Resource Center has to offer.

"We are incredibly excited about our partnership with Brooks and confident that together, this program will help to reach the broader paralysis community," said Joseph Canose, Senior Vice President, Quality of Life for the Reeve Foundation. "Brooks already has a well-established and well-respected peer mentor program. By bringing their expertise to our national program, we can provide the best resources and knowledge available."

Steve Kenny, living with a C5/C6 spinal cord injury from a 1993 diving accident, is the Southeast Regional Coordinator of the PFSP. For the past four years, he has been mentoring individuals with recent spinal cord injuries as a volunteer at Brooks. Since becoming a Certified Mentor for the PFSP, Kenny and other Reeve Foundation and Brooks mentors have helped at least 25 individuals.

"In December, I helped an individual with a high-level spinal cord injury that was still in intensive care at a trauma center in Jacksonville," recalls Kenny of his guidance to a 23-year-old father. "He had requested a DNR [do not resuscitate]. His mother was overwhelmed. I spoke with him and his mom and showed them how I live a full and happy life. The next day the DNR was removed and they decided to proceed with treatment."

Since then, with Kenny's ongoing mentorship, the patient has progressed to outpatient therapy and has joined the Brooks Rehabilitation Neuro Recovery Center, a specialized day-gym program that allows caregivers and patients to continue independent physical activity and strengthening. This is just one example of how a Certified Mentor can greatly impact lives.

The Reeve Foundation and Brooks are actively recruiting new clients: people living with paralysis, family members and caregivers who are in need of guidance by a Certified Mentor. The benefits of talking to a Certified Mentor include a clear understanding of the realities of paralysis, how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, confidence building and motivation, understanding of the science and progress in research of paralysis, how to avoid secondary conditions, and more.

About Brooks Rehabilitation
Brooks Rehabilitation has been serving Southeast Georgia, Northeast and Central Florida for over 35 years. As a non-profit organization, Brooks Rehabilitation, based in Jacksonville, FL, operates one of the nation's largest inpatient rehabilitation hospitals in the US with 157 beds, one of the region's largest home healthcare agencies, 26 outpatient rehabilitation clinics, a skilled nursing unit dedicated to orthopedic rehabilitation, a rehabilitation medicine physician practice and an award winning skilled nursing facility. In addition, Brooks Rehabilitation operates the Brooks Rehabilitation Clinical Research Center which specializes in research for stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury and more to advance the science of rehabilitation. Brooks Rehabilitation also provides many low or no cost community programs and services such as the Brooks Clubhouse and our Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program to improve the quality of life for people living with physical disabilities. For more information, visit BrooksRehab.org.

About the Reeve Foundation

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. We meet all 20 of the Better Business Bureau's standards for charity accountability and hold the BBB's Charity Seal. For more information, please browse our website, ChristopherReeve.org or call 800-225-0292.