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Friday, June 28, 2013

GUEST BLOGGER: Jeannie Pickard of Project Walk Atlanta... It's Personal.

It was two weeks before our oldest son Chris' graduation from Lambert High School and the night before prom...an exciting time of year for a senior. On Friday evening May 13, 2011 at 10:20pm we received a phone call and learned he had possibly been in an automobile accident. We arrived to the scene of police cars, fire trucks and ambulances, and were relieved as we did not see his truck. Within seconds, through the flashing lights, we caught a glimpse of our son lying on a stretcher and found out that he was a passenger in an automobile that had crashed into the nearby brick sign. He had sustained a burst fracture to his c6 vertebrae and would need surgery right away to relieve pressure on his spinal cord.

All of a sudden, our world was turned upside down and, after spending a week in ICU at North Fulton Regional Hospital, we were on our way to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Our son was a quadriplegic and we would find out over the next three months, exactly what that meant. We were bombarded with the reality that there is much more to a spinal cord injury than being paralyzed and in a wheelchair.

While at the Shepherd Center our son learned how to function in a wheelchair, and we were educated on how to live with a spinal cord injury. All the while, we were wondering, "Where do we go next?" as our goal was for him to walk again. After much prayer, hours of research and the discovery of a friend, we believe God led us to Project Walk in Carlsbad, California. We had visited several facilities while researching our options and, without a doubt, we knew Project Walk was where he needed to be.             

For the first time since his accident, we were filled with hope. It felt like the ball was finally in our court, and our son would have the opportunity to work toward gaining optimum recovery and the arduous goal of walking again someday.


Through God's provision and the generous support of family, friends, and even strangers in our community, Chris' dad Paul, and Chris, spent seven weeks at Project Walk in California. Project Walk exceeded ALL of our expectations. We were very encouraged as Paul and Chris met people who had been told in traditional therapy that they would never walk again, but after being at Project Walk, they were proving them wrong.

At Project Walk we found a very different philosophy. We saw with our own eyes the success of the clients at Project Walk and we knew our son needed to continue this therapy, which our insurance would not pay for.

Once again, God moved in a big way, and we signed a deal to bring Project Walk to Atlanta! The motto we have inscribed on our hearts is: "Project Walk Atlanta... it's personal." It's personal because we understand firsthand what families are going through after experiencing the devastation of a spinal cord injury. We strongly believe that EVERY person affected by a spinal cord injury deserves the opportunity to receive this kind of therapy. 

Not only does this intense activity-based therapy give them the best chance for recovery, but it also helps prevent secondary health issues such as pressure sores, blood clots, poor circulation, blood pressure issues, loss in bone density and pneumonia. Sitting in a wheelchair promotes poor health, reducing the quality of life and the hope of gaining independence.

That is why a major portion of our time will be focused on raising awareness for the needs of spinal cord injury patients in order to raise funds to help those whose insurance will not pay for this kind of therapy.
We are humbled and honored to be the Founders of Project Walk Atlanta. We need your help, to step up and scholarship clients who have been put in a position where they cannot help themselves. A spinal cord injury can happen to anyone...a daughter, a son, a spouse...anyone. Please partner with us as we help those who have been affected by this traumatic injury. With your help we can change lives!

Project Walk Atlanta is a 501c-3 non-profit company. We need your help in supporting the many friends with SCI to get the recovery that they deserve. Please donate through our web site or Facebook at Project Walk Atlanta. Thank You.

(Pictured aboveChris, Paul and Jeannie Pickard) 


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