Peer spotlight: Kevin Lange

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on May 22, 2019 # PFSP

“When I first met Ed, I never could have guessed the impact and importance he would have in my life,” said Kevin Lange, 59. “In fact, I can’t really imagine where I would be without him.”

Ed Sperling was a member of the synagogue near Lange’s home. Mutual friends suggested they meet.

“It turns out that Ed and I have a similar background,” said Lange. “We both have C5/C6 incomplete injuries from a biking accident. His in 2011; mine in 2017. I wasn’t sure what to expect when my wife, Christina, first reached out to him, but I never could have envisioned how helpful he would be on so many levels.”

Sperling was already a trained mentor volunteering with the Reeve Foundation's Peer & Family Support Program. He first visited Lange just weeks after his arrival at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in New Jersey. Initially, much of Sperling’s support came in the form of practical advice. He spent a lot of time on the phone with Christina before Kevin was discharged, going through different home modification needs and what to expect.

“At first, he was extremely helpful to Christina, who was feeling completely overwhelmed,” said Lange. “Everything was so stressful. I’m not sure she would have been able to handle all of it without his support.”

The day after Kevin arrived home from Kessler, Sperling sent his aide over to help Kevin’s aide get up to speed on best practices more quickly. Sperling also brought over some of his own supplies to help Kevin and Christina get through the early days of trying to figure out what they needed. And when insurance sent the Lange’s a poor bed option, Sperling recommended the model bed and mattress he used and allowed the Lange’s to use him as a reference to get a good price.

“I spend a lot of time in bed, so having a good bed is very important,” said Lange. “Ed saved me so much time and aggravation with trial and error of different beds because he had already been through it.”

Sperling also shared therapy center advice, adaptive technology recommendations, and his legal contacts and experience, enabling the Lange’s to move through the system to secure Medicaid rather quickly.

“Ed invited us over to his house to see the different equipment and other resources he uses and how they work,” said Lange. “He is ahead of us in everything we are doing, so he gives us an idea of what works, what to expect, and where to find the best solutions.”

A seasoned mentor, Sperling has helped more than a dozen people during his three years in the Peer & Family Support Program. As the Lange’s become more comfortable with the day to day life, Sperling’s role has started to shift toward offering encouragement and building Lange’s confidence to get out and try new things.

“Ed co-chairs a local support group meeting each week, so I have gone to that a couple times. It is a helpful forum to share problems and solutions,” said Lange. “He has also encouraged me to try adaptive sports. We’ve gone bowling and I went water skiing last year.”

Since Sperling knew Lange was a big New York Giants football fan, he asked his brother, who works for the team, to arrange for them to attend a game. Sperling’s brother set them up with sideline seats for warm-ups.

“Ed has truly become a great friend,” said Lange. “Going through trial and error and learning things the hard way without him would have been so much more challenging. I absolutely encourage anyone who has had an injury to reach out to the Reeve Foundation and participate in this program. Ed has been invaluable to me and my whole family.”