Regional Champion Spotlight: Joseph Preti

Posted by Reeve Foundation Staff in Life After Paralysis on March 02, 2021 # Advocacy and Policy

1. Please share a bit about your experience.Joseph Preti in an office in front of American flag

My experience as a Reeve Regional Champion has been rich and rewarding. When I contact a member of Congress, I do so as a member of the paralysis community. I want to share my life experience as a person with a disability and as someone who is alive, vibrant and with something important to offer. Members of Congress are constantly barraged with lobbyists and others asking for help and support. Some of these individuals are paid professionals. When I make contact, I do as a constituent who is voluntarily sharing with them my personal story. I also share the incredibly important work of the Reeve Foundation with them and how I have personally benefitted from the services and support the Foundation provides.

2. Why are you advocating for the Reeve Foundation?

I chose to advocate for the Reeve Foundation for several reasons; first and foremost, the Reeve Foundation was a source of hope and light after I was first injured. I felt so alone and vulnerable. My wife and I had gone from a hospital setting with doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers to a remote community inside a three-story home with just the two of us. If not for the Reeve Foundation, my depression and feelings of hopelessness would have overtaken our life. The Foundation was there providing me with resource materials and guiding me on how secure local resources. Secondly, I believe in the work the Reeve Foundation performs for the disabled community. They are a voice of advocacy for those of us living with challenges unseen and unthought of by the vast majority of the able-bodied population. The Foundation focuses on individuals' efforts in a combined manner that magnifies the strength of their message of advocacy, support, and funding. Joseph smiling wearing a tux

3. Do you have any tips for advocacy?

As a tip for those who may want to get involved with advocating for the Reeve Foundation, one way is to join the Regional Champion's program. I would strongly suggest sharing your personal story in a sincere and meaningful way. Don't be afraid to share personal details of what life has been like since being disabled. Share about your experience on how the Foundation provided the necessary support and resources that helped you grow. It helped me become better physically, psychologically and emotionally. I was 59 years old when I became disabled. My initial thought was my life was over. At first, I thought I would have been better off not surviving my fall than being in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. The Foundation was there for my wife and me. They helped put me in touch with a community of others who had experienced the same types of challenges. I saw how they had overcome them with grit and determination. At first, I felt so very alone, but I realized that I was not alone, thanks to the Reeve Foundation. There were so many others who had faced what I had and who had overcome them. They went on to do incredible things. They lived life to the fullest and didn't let anything get in their way. I quickly realized that this was the example I needed to have. I needed to see that I was not alone and came to realize that life was not over.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.