Spinal cord injuries happen.
They happen every day, everywhere, to people of all ages and descriptions, and from all walks of life. And they happen in many different ways.
In 1990, I was at the height of my career as a professional race car driver. Then, on a test run in England, an accident -- a freak one by racing standards -- left me paralyzed with a devastating spinal cord injury.
Initially, there was concern I would even survive my injuries. I careened from one medical crisis to another, taking my family and loved ones along on that wrenching, emotional roller-coaster ride. Then, when the imminent dangers had passed, I arrived at the forefront of living life in the wake of a paralyzing spinal cord injury.
Ironically, less than six months earlier I had chosen The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis as my personal charity, and had already begun assisting them in raising funds for spinal cord injury research. I clearly recall personally placing their logos on my race car, never dreaming that within a few months my future would be in their hands.
A number of years have passed since the fateful day I was paralyzed. In that time, my compassion for victims of spinal cord injuries and respect for the families and friends of those standing behind them has grown immeasurably. I have learned that hope, encouragement, support and determination, aided by education, are among the keys in creating a meaningful, satisfying life despite physical obstacles.
I am lucky. I have a wonderful family and an amazing collection of friends and business associates who share my commitment to build a better future for those with spinal cord injuries and other central nervous system disorders. Our national Wheelchair Donation Program continues to grow and provide support for individuals living with paralysis. These wheelchairs provide them with the gift of mobility, freedom and independence they deserve.
We also know we are making a difference and reducing the number of spinal cord injuries that occur by educating teenagers through our Education & Prevention Program.
My life, both before and after my spinal cord injury, has centered around professional auto racing. Surprisingly, there are similarities between side-by-side competition at more than 300 miles-per-hour, and the quest to provide support for people with paralysis and prevent spinal cord injuries. Both are expensive. Both can be competitions against the clock. And with adequate funding, technical expertise and dedication, both can be won.
There’s an old saying in auto racing: “It’s not where you start, but where you finish.” That’s also true of living life with a spinal cord injury. The race to support people with paralysis and prevent spinal cord injuries is well underway. With continuing help, I am certain that race will be won.
Will you help? I’m counting on your support. Please Give the Gift of Mobility and donate to the Darrell Gwynn Foundation today.