30 September 2012

Working2Walk - I'll be there in spirit AND pocketbook

I've never done this on my blog before, but today I'm happy to make a very important announcement.

I made a small donation of USD125 to Unite2FightParalysis (U2FP) today. 

Let me tell you why I did and why I think you should, too.

The amount of my donation is equal to the early bird registration for the Working2Walk (W2W) conference that they are holding in Irvine, California on 1-3 November. For those of you who don't know what Working2Walk is, let me tell you just a little.
  • a yearly conference sponsored by U2FP since 2006 to bring together scientists, practioners, paralysis survivors and family members for a dynamic exchange of information and strategies
  • with a jam packed agenda of the best science to cure paralysis
  • presented by leading world scientists and others involved in raising money and advocating for a cure for spinal cord injury

I wish I could attend W2W, organized by U2FP, but because of distance and pain I really can't go to California, but distance or pain shouldn't deter us from participating even if we can't physically attend.

Last year I was skyped in from Osaka to Washington to sit on the advocacy panel. It was a great experience to be able to talk about activism in the spinal cord injury with so many at the conference and even more people not at the conference.

That's right; more people saw me who weren't at the conference than were actually at the conference. This is because the W2W organizers make sure that we benefit by:
  • having a live blog to read about the events as they happen (2011 W2W)
  • putting the main speakers up on the web so we can see the good news about the main scientific cure breakthroughs (2010&2011 W2W)

Not only this, but we benefit from the advocacy that they undertake on our behalf year round.

So this year, I'm giving something back even though I can't physically attend. I'm going to pay my registration fee by making a donation to say thank you and to continue supporting W2W and U2FP. I hope those who are able do the same, and please don't let the size of my pocketbook discourage you from donating even more.

20 September 2012

Roman Reed vetoed but we are not defeated

It was a law that WE supported. That WE backed by sending emails and faxes.

In the end, despite all our efforts, the governor of California, Mr. Jerry Brown, vetoed the law. But he didn't simply veto a law, he let down the paralyzed. He didn't just let us down in words, he let us down by taking away about $3 million dollars from the cure paralysis war chest.

There is a lot of discussion about why he did it, and since I'm no expert on California politics, the source I trust for this information is Mr. Don Reed, whose son Roman Reed the bill is named after. In Mr. Reed's latest post on StemCell Battes (www.stemcellbattles.com) he has this to say in regards to Governor Jerry Brown's reasons.

"Why did Jerry Brown do it? He stood by his beliefs.  He does not approve of fee-based government, believing programs should be paid for by the General Fund, not traffic tickets, already so expensive a poor person may not be able to pay them at all.
I understand that position, and agree with it. 
But our program was funded by the General Fund, for $1.5 million a year.
Then, two years ago, due to the economy, our funding was removed.  
We either had to find a new way to pay for the program, or watch it die."
Mr. Reed is clear about the reasons why funding does not come from the general fund as it should and does not blame Governor Brown.
"Important: I do not hold a grudge against Jerry Brown. He has an impossible task to perform. There is not enough money in the General Fund. That is not his fault, and it is the reason our program's original funding was removed.
Here is the problem.
Republicans have gamed the system. It has become virtually impossible to raise taxes on the rich. In California, Proposition 13, (a citizen's initiative funded by anti-tax groups), made it illegal to raise taxes without a 2/3 majority. Since virtually all Republicans sign a no-new-taxes pledge, the needed 2/3 majority is virtually impossible to achieve. This must change.
I strongly support Governor Brown's tax increase on upper-income Californians. If programs like ours, or school budget increases, or anything at all progressive to have a chance, taxes on the wealthy must go up."

I am actually of the same opinion. We shouldn't have to rely on add ons to fund research that changes the lives of people, but the Reeds knew that without the $1 add on, research funding for a paralysis cure would suffer, and we the paralyzed and our family and friends will also continue suffering.
So, do we give up? The Reeds aren't and are ready to go back at it starting in January. I say that we all continue to back them. After having gone through a half year of this, we're smarter and more ready than ever to take on part III of this battle.
I urge you to sign up as a Cure Captain to make sure we're all spreading the word. Not only in our Roman Reed campaign, but with all the other campaigns we are involved in for paralysis cure.

If you have a moment, a fax to the Governor expressing a polite sorrow that the bill was killed, would really be helpful.

Here is the name & fax number.
Name:  Governor Jerry Brown
Fax:  (916) 558-3160

Here is what I'm writing. Please feel free to cut and paste.

Dear Governor Jerry Brown,
I must admit that I was quite shocked after hearing that you vetoed the Roman Reed law. I can understand your opposition to fee based funding, but for the paralyzed this is the only way to fund research at the moment. 
I hope that in the future we can work together to find better ways to fund paralysis cure research.

Dennis Tesolat
Osaka, Japan

Here is how you can send a FREE ONLINE FAX in four minutes.


15 September 2012

FREE ONLINE FAX to Governor Jerry Brown

This campaign has now ended. See update soon!

All our hard work in sending emails has gotten the Roman Reed law through both the California Assembly and Senate.

Now Governor Jerry Brown has until 30 September to sign it into law or veto it. Let's make sure he knows how important this law to cure paralysis is by sending him a one sentence, FREE ONLINE FAX.

A cure for paralysis is possible. Let's keep making it happen!

Here is the message to copy and paste:
Dear Governor Brown: Please sign Assembly Bill 1657 (D-Wieckowski) which would add a dollar to traffic tickets, money to go to California’s spinal cord injury research fund.

Here is the name & fax number.
Name:  Governor Jerry Brown
Fax:  (916) 558-3160

Here is how you can send a FREE ONLINE FAX in four minutes at www.gotfreefax.com  

This campaign has now ended. See update soon!

09 September 2012

To Rick Hansen Institute: we don't need paper heroes

After reading two very disheartening announcements from the Rick Hansen Institute (Translational Research Advisory Committee - TRAC, and the 2011/12 Rick Hansen Institute annual report), the biggest beneficiary of the Rick Hansen Foundation, I decided to write a letter to their CEO, Mr. Bill Barrable.

The point of the letter is, very basically, spend and research on chronic spinal cord injury or get out of the game and stop raising false hope in the community.

Simply put, a cure chronic spinal cord injury is not about slogans like "a world without paralysis after spinal cord injury", but about spending on the right research. If RHI is not interested in spending on curing chronic spinal cord injury; they should just be clear with the community.

The letter below was sent today via email and fax and I will let you all know their response. I know that you're all itching to make your voices heard, but for now, let's see their response. As always, I hope they prove me wrong. Cure is not about my ego and I would love to admit that I'm wrong if money is going to cure chronic SCI. I hope others, without naming names, can also leave ego out of it. 

We want cure, not paper heroes.

Dennis Tesolat
Japan, Osaka-shi,

8 September 2012

Via FAX & Email

Bill Barrable, CEO
Rick Hansen Institute
6400 - 818 West 10th Avenue,
Blusson Spinal Cord Centre,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
FAX: +1-604-707-2121
Email: bbarrable@rickhanseninstitute.org

Dear Mr. Barrable,

My name is Dennis Tesolat and I have been involved with community questions directed to the Rick Hansen Foundation in regards to their spending on a biological cure for chronic spinal cord injury.

With great expectations I read about your new TRAC committee and its members along with the RHI 2011-2012 annual report.  I firmly believe that the TRAC committee could have a very good impact on decisions made by the RHI board.  I had two serious concerns after reading through these reports.  My first is that in looking at the members of this committee, I don’t see anyone who has been involved  in research into such a cure except for Drs. Fehlings and Kwon.

My other concern is with your annual report.  From my reading of this, it would appear that your efforts are concerned exclusively with preventing paralysis as an outcome of spinal cord injury, while at the same time trying to improve quality of life for those of us already paralyzed.

In my opinion, this is unacceptable from an organization whose slogan is “a world without paralysis after spinal cord injury”.  Please tell me that I am wrong. Please tell me that I missed very important things in your report and that you are contributing to specific efforts towards an actual physical cure for chronic spinal cord injury.

If you cannot point these efforts out to me, I would suggest that RHI be very clear with the community and tell people that your goal is NOT a physical cure for chronic spinal cord injury.

Without this announcement, countless people currently living with paralysis will make donations in the belief that you are working on an actual cure for them. There will be continued resentment and anger from the community when they find out they have been misled again.

I also believe that Members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies who vote funds for your organization do so under the impression that RHI is seeking a cure for both acute and chronic paralysis. If your organization is not actively supporting efforts towards regeneration, you also need to be clear on this with your major funding sources.

More insidiously, organizations around the world which see you as a leader in the field may believe that you are offering leadership towards a cure for chronic spinal cord injuries.  If you do not offer this, there will be very deleterious effects on the overall field.  We therefore suggest that you actively step away from campaigning in this area and offering leadership unless you're willing to actually fund the scientific research that will lead to regeneration.

Your silence around this issue is damaging to both the community and other spinal cord injury associations. I hope that, unlike RHF, you will break the silence around this issue and answer clearly and honestly.

Dennis Tesolat

04 September 2012

U2FP new knockout website launched to cure paralysis

Unite 2 Fight ParalysisWhen I was first paralyzed I was lucky because within a week my union set me up with a computer in the hospital. They told me that I could work when I was up to it. This really saved my life as I realized that regardless of my paralysis, I was still needed; my work still had to get done.

But that computer also brought me something else - HOPE for a paralysis cure as I could read all the latest information about research. This was great, but it wasn't until I stumbled across the U2FP website that real hope came my way.

For those of you who don't know, U2FP stands for Unite2FightParalysis and the idea that a person who couldn't even roll over in bed could FIGHT paralysis truly impressed me. Hospital beds are lonely places, especially when most are giving you the 'life in the chair' speech, but reading through the U2FP site let me know that I could do something about paralysis other than sit patiently in my chair and hope for cure.

Because I owe this group a deep gratitude, I want to let you all know about their new website.

Want to educate yourself about cure? It's all here.

Want to connect with cure community. It's all here.

Want to know how you can fight paralysis? It's all here.

And plenty, plenty more.

For me, U2FP is the embodiment of the three principles of the kind of organization we need to beat paralysis - educate, organize, and agitate.

I hope you take some time not only to read about U2FP, but to also take part in their activities to cure spinal cord injury.

On my end, I'll say thank you to U2FP for all the great work they've done in the past and for their future plans to fight the good fight over paralysis cure.