Archive for January, 2012

In a unanimous decision Saturday night at the Roseland Ballroom, Boyd Melson beat Shawn Williams, improving his record to 8-0. I’m not a huge fan of boxing, but I do enjoy watching Boyd. Knowing that he is so passionate about raising money for SCI Clinical Trials in the U.S. makes me a huge fan! At times I feel like his mother, worrying about him getting hurt; at other times I am rooting for him to knock out his opponent. I pretty much hold my breath during each round!

Boyd donates all of his winnings to Dr. Wise Young at the Rutgers SCI Project, has formed Team Fight to Walk, and has enlisted the help of other boxers to support the cause.

Check out his website: www.teamfighttowalk.com and www.boydmelson.com. Boyd is a special kind of person, and I am glad to know him!

Roseland Ballroom, Jan 21, 2012

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I am pleased to tell everyone that our event list is growing, with some fun, exciting happenings planned for 2012! Push to Walk is continuing the tradition of our Poker Tournament and Golf Outing, and bringing back the very successful Wine Tasting we had in 2009. Last year’s Team Push to Walk for the NJ Marathon was so successful that we are planning to participate again this year with an even larger group! A new event will be the Jack o’ Lantern Jamboree in conjunction with the Suburban Trends on Sunday, October 28 (more details coming soon!).

Thank you to all the venues, sponsors, volunteers and particpants who have helped us host successful fund raisers in the past.

We have made a conscious decision to NOT raise our client hourly fees, but instead make up the difference with private grants, fund raising and special events. We feel that people with spinal cord injuries who pay for our program (there is no insurance coverage) have enough financial challenges, and we do not want to burden them with higher hourly rates if we can make up the difference in other ways. (Even at our current rate, client fees do not cover our operating expenses; outside funds are critical to our existence.)

  1. 3rd Annual Casino Night featuring Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament – Saturday, March 31 at Route 23 AutoMall, Butler, NJ
  2. NJ Marathon and Half Marathon/Relay – Sunday, May 6 – Long Branch, NJ
  3. Wine Tasting featuring the Lou Pallo Trio – Thursday, June 14 at the Grand Chalet, Wayne, NJ
  4. 5th Annual Golf Outing – Monday, September 24 at Wild Turkey, Crystal Springs Golf Resort, McAfee, NJ
  5. Jack o’Lantern Jamboree – Sunday, October 28

We hope there’s something for everyone on this list! Please join us and spread the word. Thanks!


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I thought about writing today’s post about flying because my son, Darren, will be flying to Las Vegas tomorrow afternoon for a quad rugby tournament. As with many of my posts, they come from my own personal experience, and are not neccessarily true or accurate for everyone else, but they are what I know, and can hopefully help others.

As many of you already know, Darren is very independent. He’s a C5 quad that drives, has his MBA and works full time. He is living in an apartment with a roommate, and is active on the Board and as a player for the NY Warriors quad rugby team.

Darren has flown many times since his injury. Some flights were with me or other family members, with friends, and by himself as well. He uses a manual wheelchair with eMotion wheels, which he has to be very careful with when flying. His roommate will be dropping him off and picking him up from the airport, so I won’t even be there to give him last minute reminders. I’m sure Darren is grateful for that actually! While I feel the need to remind him of a variety of things, Darren doesn’t obviously need my help (imagine that!). Oh, the anxiety “us Moms” have when “letting go” of our children……..

One thing I know is to allow plenty of time for everything travel related. It takes more time to drop off the passenger, more time to check in, more time to go through security, etc. Preparation is key! Then, usually the airline wants you to board FIRST, so you want to make sure you arrive at the gate with plenty of time. In Darren’s case, he stays in his wheelchair until he reaches the door of the plane. He is then transferred into an “aisle chair” that is very narrow and fits in the aisle of the plane. It is up to Darren to instruct the helpers as to how to lift him, how to transfer, etc. It is very important that the passenger feel comfortable in explaining how things should be done for him/herself. If the passenger is unable to explain the details, he/she should have someone along with them to explain. His wheelchair (previously tagged) will be gate checked.

During a long flight or delays of any sort, you should be prepared to catheterize should the need arise. Darren always has his supplies with him, and with the help of a seat mate or stewardess, he can have a blanket for privacy should he need to take care of urinating on the plane. It can hopefully be avoided, but sometimes must be done.

Upon arrival at the destination, a person using an aisle chair and needing their wheelchair from the cargo area, is generally the last one off the plane. It is important to check the wheelchair to make sure it all looks good, before transferring back into it. I know Darren takes off some of the parts that might come off or be harmed in transit (tip bars, seat cushion), so they need to be put back on.

I hope I don’t jinx this trip, but up until now, Darren has not had any problems with his chair. I have heard horror stories about both passengers and equipment being abused and not treated properly, but fortunately, Darren’s equipment has always been OK.

We did have a situation in the Denver airport when we were flying home to NJ from a great week of skiing at Winter Park (their adaptive program was awesome!) where Darren was definitely and clearly mis-treated. The agent was nasty and seemed to have his eye on Darren from the minute we arrived at security. At that time, we did not know the regulation/law said that a person in a wheelchair does NOT have to be removed from his/her chair for an “inspection,” but we do now. We had never had this happen before (or since, thank goodness), but that experience was horrible. The agent insisted on bringing Darren into a private room, would not let me or anyone in the family accompany him, and they transferred him out of his wheelchair and into another chair so they could inspect him and the chair. It was an awful, humiliating experience. We know now that a person is not required to do this, and I hope Darren carries that regulation with him, that we found online. Hopefully he’ll never have to use it.

All in all, his travel experiences have been pleasant, and he certainly does not avoid flying if he wants to go somewhere. I’d love to hear your questions, experiences and stories. Please share!


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In one of my recent blogs, I mentioned standing frames. While this post doesn’t necessarily follow my “schedule” which would address challenges and struggles, the idea of fitting in time to “stand” on a regular schedule could be considered both a challenge and a struggle for some people. From what I have learned about SCI, the frequent use of a standing frame is one of THE most important things a person can do who is paralyzed.

The results and benefits from standing and being weight bearing are many: just standing and stretching out the body from the sitting position offers many benefits to the body’s systems and organs – circulation, digestive, urinary and bowel – to increasing range of motion, improving cardiovascular health, and improving posture. Let’s not overlook the more obvious result – being upright! For many people, this is very important psychologically, and can improve one’s positive feelings and outlook on life.

At Push to Walk, we have found that clients who do stand on a regular basis have less complications than others. If you don’t have a standing frame, and could benefit from using one, check out www.easystand.com. Or do some research on the internet; I remember reading how some people built one for themselves. Maybe that was on CareCure (an excellent resource for all things related to SCI – http://sci.rutgers.edu) or Apparelyzed (another great resource – www.apparelyzed.com). Some insurance companies DO cover standing frames, and it is worth appealing if you get a denial.

The challenge is – making time to DO IT! As with lots of different things we don’t really want to do, we make excuses, never get around to it, or plan on doing it tomorrow (which becomes next week, then next month, etc.). THE TIME IS NOW! Start standing, and do it on a regular basis. Watch TV or a movie while you’re standing. If you have the kind with a tray, put your computer up there, or a book. Something to help you pass the time. I know my son will even stand while he and a friend are watching a movie. Even try playing video games! The important thing is you’ll be STANDING!

For those of you reading this that are able bodied and take standing very much for granted, think of NOT being able to do it.

For those of you who have injuries or disabilities that make standing on your own difficult or near impossible, please tell me what benefits you have found from using a standing frame.

OK, I’m getting off my soap-box for today……………..


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So January is all about New Year’s Resolutions (right?) and my new (new to being full time) staff person, Stephanie, is trying to help me keep up with the Monday-Wednesday-Friday blog posts. So here’s the plan:

On Mondays, I plan to write about struggles and challenges that people with SCI face, whether in every day situations or special circumstances.

Wednesdays will bring updates on either happenings at Push to Walk, with clients, programs or events; or stories on independence.

I’ll wrap up the week with Friday blogs about successes and triumphs that I know about personally or that others share with me.

Sooo, if you have stories, articles or links to share with me that fit into these categories, please let me know. I’d love to have new information to use!

Have a good weekend and I’ll be in touch on Monday!


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Push to Walk has had a GoodSearch account for quite some time, but we have never made a real attempt to tell people about it and how it could help us. While searches only earn one penny each, think about how many searches you do in a day, week, month – I bet it’s more than you even realize! I now have the GoodSearch toolbar, and every time I do a search from now on, Push to Walk earns one cent. With our employees using it now, too, I bet we see a dramatic increase in our earnings in a very short time. I’m not expecting it to replace a major fundraiser, but hey – every penny DOES count! And when we’re talking about helping people with spinal cord injuries, every little bit helps!

If you’d like to help Push to Walk in this very simple way, here are the instructions. It actually takes more time to read the steps to follow than it does to actually carry them out! Believe me, it is a very quick and easy process.

FIRST – Register for GoodSearch at www.goodsearch.com

On the upper right side of the homepage there is a button that says “Register”.  Click “Register” to sign up.  Once on the registration page you will be asked to enter your first & last name, zip code, email address, and to provide a password.  Then click “Register Now”.  You will then receive a confirmation email so you can verify your registration.  When you click the link to verify you will then be brought back to the GoodSearch website and will be prompted to login.  Click on the “keep me logged in” button so all your searches register for Push to Walk. The next step is the most important.  After logging in you will see a box on the right side of the page. It will ask you to designate the cause you support.  Click the button and type in “Push to Walk.” From that point on, all searches through GoodSearch will raise $.01 for Push to Walk.

To have an even greater impact on the cause of your choice (Push to Walk) you can click on the “Spread the Word” tab and then find the “Toolbar” text.  After, clicking on the toolbar text, find “Download GoodSearch Toolbar” and read for further instructions.  A step further would be to also make GoodSearch your homepage.   Every time you open your browser you will be reminded to check if you are still logged in.

You will just need to go to GoodSearch’s website every day or so to make sure you weren’t logged out from the day before.

Although a penny may not seem like much, it all adds up! Thanks for helping and for spreading the word about Good Search!


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Five years! Can you believe it? Push to Walk opened its doors for the very first time on January 15, 2007. We had three clients, two part time trainers, and barely 1000 sq ft of space. Most of what filled the gym was equipment we had at home that Darren used.  While he was at Project Walk in California for a week that January, we moved some of the equipment from home to the new Push to Walk location. Some other things he had at the gym at Ramapo College, and we did have a few platform tables built for the new gym. I am very proud to say that with only a $15,000 loan from me and my husband, we opened our doors. According to a three year schedule, that loan was paid off at the end of 2009, and we have sustained ourselves ever since.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have contributed to our success: the many clients who have placed their trust in us; our ever-widening circle of donors who have contributed to us and/or participated in our special events; my awesome staff who take their jobs to heart each and every day; dedicated Board Members who volunteer their time and energy to oversee our operations; many friends who have helped along the way; and other related agencies and organizations that have assisted us in one way or another.  With everyone’s help, we have more than survived these first 5 years – we have thrived!

I expect 2012 to bring more exciting news and events to Push to Walk and the entire spinal cord injury community. With the growing understanding and acceptance of specialized exercise workouts for people with SCI and the planned U.S. clinical trials, there is much to look forward to in the coming year. We can only hope that successful clinical trials would eliminate the need for our gyms in the future, but until then, we are here to help as many people as possible.

As we celebrate this 5th Anniversary, I am now even more keenly aware of the challenges and struggles that people with SCI face every day. I am also aware of the successes, triumphs and goals achieved. I have to thank all those who have shared their stories with me, helping me understand a little of the world they face each and every day. As a parent of a young man with a spinal cord injury (Darren, injured in 2004, now almost 26 years old) , I see one piece of the puzzle. Talking with clients and others I have met with SCI, their parents, children, spouses and siblings, you have all taught me so much. Thank you for sharing the ups and downs of your lives. I hope I can continue to help others as I learn what I can and pass on to others in need.

Thank you for being part of the Push to Walk Family!



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Hi Again!

OK, sometimes I get on my “soap box” about certian topics, and driving is one of them. The next post will be another – standing frames!

Because of my own particular situation of having a son that was 18 at the time of his injury, driving was one of the things he wanted to figure out ASAP. Also, because Darren had been very independent prior to his injury, his personality did not change after the fact. So we had to start thinking about a vehicle and driving as soon as he was able to handle it from a strength standpoint.

Again, this is my own experience, and I know a lot of people with SCI don’t have the financial resources to do what we did. I understand that. We were able to purchase an accessible vehicle, and that made a huge difference. Darren was so anxious to get out and about, and he was so tired of asking for rides here and there, I knew he would do so much more if he could drive on his own.

While a van was not the vehicle of choice for a hip 19 year old, Darren realized it offered the most for his situation. From the beginning to now, there have been a few phases of Darren’s driving:

At first, he drove from his power chair (which he used all of the time) with an easy lock mechanism to lock into place. When he started using his manual wheelchair more often, he actually transferred from his manual chair into the power chair and drove from that. Then we purchased a 6 way power base driver seat, which moves back and forth, up and down and swivels side to side. He transfers into that, and drives from the driver’s seat. He finds it very comfortable, especially for the long drives he takes (more on that in a future blog, possibly!).

All of this points to what driving has afforded Darren – more independence. Of course, I still worry about him driving too late at night, in bad weather conditions, or in areas he’s unfamiliar with. But all parents worry about those things; we just worry more when there are extenuating circumstances like an SCI. I don’t mean to say I don’t.

It all takes SO much time – driving lessons, prescriptions for the correct adaptable equipment, ordering a vehicle, learning to drive it, etc. Sometimes people get so frustrated with the process, that they never take on the challenge of starting to drive. I encourage all of you to seek help in fund raising to help purchase a vehicle, to take the initiative with Vocational Rehab programs, to figure out all that it takes to help someone with an SCI drive again. It is well worth the effort and can provide so much independence and freedom to all those involved.

Let me know if you have any questions and maybe I can provide some insights to help you!  


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Hi Everyone,

Caregiving is one of the most important aspects after a loved one sustains a spinal cord injury. There is no way around it, and there seem to be as many solutions as there are people and families who need to address this area.

As with most of my writings, I write from my own experience and those I have spoken to. What works for me and our family is not the only way; it just has worked (or in some cases – not worked!) for us.

And there are differences between taking care of quads and paras, differences between taking care of young children, older children, spouses, parents, siblings, etc.

One thing I believe in strongly, though, is to get outside help. I know of many, many families who don’t do this, and it seems to work out. Sometimes finances dictate the decisions, and I totally respect that. But in the long term, the best scenario is that the relationship between the person with the injury and the caregiver can return to the parent/child, spouse, sibling, etc. without all of the caregiving responsibiities getting in the way. Again, this is my personal opinion, and fortunately we have found wonderful, excellent caregivers to help. I know a lot of people who don’t have these options. But if you can, I strongly suggest getting outside help.

As a parent of a now 25 year old with a C5 SCI, it was a huge step for me not to do his daily care. I asked: who could do it better? Who would take care of him like I do? Who really knows what to do? We did find someone who has been with Darren for quite some time. Now I am his Mom again, and we are both handling the whole issue of care much better. He has his freedom, his privacy, his independence. While this is not new for us, it is something I felt important enough to write about.

I would welcome other opinions and thoughts, as I know there are many different situations out there. While I do not consider myself OLD by any stretch  of the imagination, it is a fact that I am getting older and will not be around forever. Darren needs to do as much as he can on his own, and being responsible for his own care is one big step towards his long term independence.

Thanks for reading! Cynthia

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One of our Push to Walk trainers shared this link with me. It looks pretty interesting, so I thought I’d pass it along. Check it out!


The blog’s author says he’s going to tell it like it is to have spinal muscular atrophy, so it is in line with my “keepin’ it real” theme. Let me know what you think!


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