|New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie, David McCauley and board members of Rise Up to Cure Paralysis
In 2008, a diving accident shattered McCauley’s C6 vertebrae and splintered his spinal cord. Currently, he is participating in clinical trials at the Kessler Foundation involving locomotor training and functional electronic stimulation and has recovered sensation and motor function to areas 2 feet below his level of injury.
“I’m deeply inspired by David’s commitment and motivation,” said Mrs. Christie. “He has overcome his own personal hurdles to make medical progress, and in the process, has dedicated himself to work at enhancing the quality of life for so many other people and families who are impacted by paralysis and its complications. I am proud to name David McCauley a New Jersey Hero.”
Run from McCauley’s Jersey City apartment, Rise Up to Cure Paralysis accomplishes its mission through its fundraising efforts that provide Research Grants for medical research as well as Quality of Life Grants for individuals in need of adaptive equipment or alternative therapies. Awarded on a quarterly basis, Quality of Life grants help defray the costs of wheelchairs and other daily living aids including rehab equipment, ramps and even eating utensils. The Foundation recently awarded a Quality of Life grant to a disabled skier to assist with the purchase of a Mono Snow Ski. Research Grants will be awarded annually to the best and brightest research facilities in the nation.
One of the Foundation’s innovative fundraising efforts is the Rise Up Art Gallery, a collection of artwork and photographs created by artists with disabilities. Proceeds raised from the sale of gallery artwork go directly to fund Quality of Life and Research grants. McCauley’s own photographs are in the collection as are some of the mosaic skateboards he designs. The next Rise Up Art Gallery Exhibition will be held in Jersey City this December.
“While I was in the hospital undergoing rehabilitation, I realized that many of my fellow patients didn’t have the extensive support system that I was so lucky to have behind me,” said David McCauley. “The injury does not discriminate -- teenagers, the elderly, people of all races and gender all faced the same challenges as me. Some may just need a wheelchair to move on with life, others may require a team of nurses 24 hours a day. This has been my motivation for Rise Up to Cure Paralysis.”
Approximately 6,000 New Jersey residents suffer from traumatic injuries or diseases that damage the spinal cord according to a 2009 report from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Nationally, the number of people living with a spinal cord injury totals 1,275,000.
To learn more about Rise Up to Cure Paralysis, visit http://www.rutcp.org/
New Jersey Heroes is an initiative of First Lady Mary Pat Christie that showcases the positive ways people and organizations are impacting New Jersey in their own unique ways. To nominate a hero, go to the bottom of the page at www.nj.gov/governor/firstlady and click the NJ Heroes tab. Follow the application instructions and submit the person you believe is a true New Jersey Hero.