Peer & Family Support Spotlight: Sari Horovitz

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on December 08, 2021 # Peer & Family Support Program

Sari HorovitzSari Horovitz strongly believes in the power of mentorship. She knows firsthand the encouragement and strength an attentive mentor can give.

So, after her then 21-year-old son sustained a C5-C6 incomplete injury in a 2007 car accident, she was happy to find the Peer & Family Support Program peer mentor training when she was poking around the Reeve Foundation website one day.

“We’ve been fortunate. My son had a strong recovery. He got married 11 months after his accident. He has four amazing kids and is completing his doctorate in psychology,” says Horovitz. “I’m enormously grateful that he could make a life for himself, and I was looking for a way to give back.”

Since Horovitz began mentoring with the Reeve Foundation several years ago, she has spoken with close to a dozen people, mostly other moms with injured sons.

“The place we all have in common is heartbreak,” says Horovitz. “It is easy to feel overwhelmed with all that is involved in recovery. And when you are looking to motivate your kid, and your child is feeling helpless and hopeless, we may not know where to turn. If you’ve never gone through it, you can only be on the periphery of the conversation. Once you’re in it, the conversation changes.”

Horovitz is often surprised by how quickly a connection is made early in mentor conversations.

“It takes only a couple of minutes to get through the basics, then we often jump in like we know each other,” says Horovitz. “We can talk about anything and everything, even joke about catheters and bowel programs. You can ask all your questions. I want to know how I can support you. I’ve been there, and you are there now, let’s talk about it.”

There are some mentees that Horovitz speaks with for several months, and others are only looking to connect a couple of times to try to answer pressing questions. She has only met one mentee in person who also lives in the Denver area.

Sari's son and his children“I spoke with one mom a single time when she was feeling overwhelmed. A year later, she called again. The connection is always open,” says Horovitz. “I’m struck by each person’s desire to keep positive energy cycling no matter the time that passes.”

Horovitz says she is most touched by the people who live in rural areas with limited access to good medical, transportation and therapy services. This is when problem-solving is the most challenging.

“There are a lot of conversations around ‘how can we do this?’ I think talking through a problem with someone who understands the needs and challenges can be really helpful.”

While Horovitz knows that listening is important as a mentor, she finds that many people appreciate the help with problem-solving and the opportunity to draw on the experiences and resources of others.

“I like to help people think through things,” says Horovitz. “When we face an obstacle, we need to open it up — what’s the problem and what are the possibilities? This enables people to feel supported and empowered to move forward.”

Horovitz thinks the biggest obstacle to mentoring is that mentees often feel like they have so many issues to take care of that they don’t have the time to talk, but she believes it is so important.

“As hard as it is to relive your heartbreak and hear the heartbreak of others, it is important to walk with people in this process,” says Horovitz. “By our example of being a peer mentor, we can show it is possible to move on and make a life — however hard that is, it is a place to be embraced. I am grateful to be in a place where I can give back and do that by connecting with others.”

You can request a Peer & Family Support Program mentor here.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.