About seven years ago, Barry Woll was driving down I-485 on a warm, sunny afternoon, headed to the golf course to meet a client.He woke up in the hospital, unable to move.
He doesn’t know how his car ended up upside down in the median, but guesses he blew a tire and lost control.
He’s fortunate he can walk — his injury did not put him permanently in a wheelchair or hospital bed.
So, he figures, who better than him to go to Washington, D.C., and lobby on behalf of others with spinal cord injuries?
Woll has signed on to join the “Cure Paralysis Now: Spring into Action” rally in the nation’s capital this week. The goal is to win passage of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act, which would earmark $300 million over three years for research, Rehabilitation and improved quality of life for paralyzed people.
He stresses that the push is not focused on controversial stem cell research.
Woll and his wife, Izzy, have appointments with the offices of N.C. senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr and Rep. Sue Myrick on Monday, followed by a welcome and rally preparations at a Washington hotel.
On Tuesday, there’s a rally with speakers outside the Capitol building. Speakers include Christopher Reeve’s widow, Dana Reeve, who chairs the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.
Woll, 53, admits he’s never done anything like this before. He says it’s his next step in helping paralyzed people, many of whom have nothing but hope that they’ll walk again.
After months in the hospital and rehab and years of recovery, Woll began to volunteer at Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation. He goes in about once a week to talk with patients, hoping to inspire them to work hard at therapy and get as much use back as possible.
“That’s the least I can do,” he says. “The most I can do is go to Washington and bang on some desks and get this funding passed. I’ve walked the walk; now I need to talk the talk.”
For details on the rally, visit www.cureparalysisnow.org