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United Spinal Awarded Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Grant to Support Disaster Relief for People With Disabilities

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United Spinal Association has been awarded a grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to support the immediate relief and recovery efforts for people with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D) following natural and human-caused disasters, including hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires.

“United Spinal is grateful for the Neilsen Foundation’s support during these challenging times that have exposed the vulnerability of the SCI/D community to natural and human-caused disasters,” said Vincenzo Piscopo, President and CEO of United Spinal Association. “This partnership is invaluable to ensuring that we can continue to lessen the effects and risks associated with disasters on our members and the entire disability community.”

With the support provided by Neilsen Foundation, United Spinal is offering disaster relief grants to its 53,000 members across the country who have been impacted by disasters, such as the loss or damage of mobility equipment and lack of access to medical supplies.

Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Logo“No matter how resilient a person is, if they don’t have a safe place to sleep, clean water, or access to basic personal care essentials, the thought of recovery or rebuilding after a natural disaster can be overwhelming,” said Kym Eisner, Executive Director of the Neilsen Foundation. “For those whose homes survive, but without power, the impact can be devastating. But for a person living with a spinal cord injury [or disorder], losing electricity can mean inability to charge a power wheelchair or use devices and obtain supplies that they depend on daily.”

To be eligible for the disaster relief grant, applicants must have a spinal cord injury or disorder. Grant approval will be determined based on need. United Spinal staff may contact applicants for additional information. Please click on the link below to apply. Submissions must be made no later than November 19, 2021.


The Neilsen Foundation grant will also be used to expand United Spinal’s comprehensive ‘Ready to Roll’ disaster preparedness initiative that helps preserve the health and safety of individuals with disabilities in times of uncertainty and upheaval due to disasters through advanced planning, along with the preparation of professionals and local agencies.

The initiative focuses on equipping wheelchair users and others living with SCI/D with information on preparing in advance for disasters by creating evacuation plans, keeping inventory of mobility equipment, creating “wheelchair go bags” filled with essential supplies, and locating local resources and accessible shelters.

United Spinal Association LogoIn 2017, United Spinal sent a delegation to Puerto Rico to provide disaster relief from Hurricane Maria, which had a devastating impact on people with mobility impairments. Staff distributed supplies and care items, including inverters to load wheelchairs; solar lamps; batteries; containers for loading gasoline; as well other medical equipment necessary for wheelchair users.

“The relief we were able to offer the disability community in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria was also made possible through a grant from the Neilsen Foundation. The impact of that storm opened our eyes to the importance of emergency preparedness and the overwhelming needs of people with disabilities in times of disaster,” said Abby Ross, United Spinal’s Chief Operating Officer.


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