I had the pleasure of meeting with our 6th NJ Hero of 2011 today, David McCauley. Talk about an inspiration… David took a tragic situation and turned it into a positive by committing himself to helping others with the same injury as his. David broke his C6 vertebrae in a diving accident 3 years ago and was paralyzed from the chest down. He started up the non-profit foundation Rise Up to Cure Paralysis (RUTCP) in order to give Quality of Life grants to people who have spinal cord injuries. RUTCP has given out 4 grants to people around the country to go towards things like purchasing a wheelchair or special utensils or rehab equipment. One NJ resident received a grant to go towards the purchase of a monoski. This recipient wants to get back on the slopes to be a ski instructor for other people with paralysis. I loved this story and how David referred to it as the “trickle down effect”. One disabled skier being an instructor for other disabled skiers will give them a sense of hope after a debilitating injury such as theirs. On top of running RUTCP, David spends 3 days a week at the Kessler Foundation doing clinical trials. Thanks to the work being done there, he has regained sensation on the right side of his body. He is sure that he will be able to walk again, hopefully in a few short years. I should mention that the main fundraiser for RUTCP are their “Rise Up Galleries”. These are art galleries showcasing artists that have spinal cord injuries, and one who has cerebral palsy. They will sell original pieces as well as prints and reproductions of the artwork. Take a look at David’s website to learn more about his Rise Up Galleries and where/when they will be taking place.
David is a hero to so many people already that he has helped along the way. I’m proud to name him one of our NJ Heroes… a true example of what it means to give your time and energy to make the lives of people around you better. His spirit, determination, and positive outlook make him an incredible role model. To learn more about Rise Up to Cure Paralysis and David McCauley, please visit their website: www.rutcp.org.