VALPARAISO — Joe White, organizer of the annual Spinal Cord Injury Walk/Roll, admits it’s hard to ask folks to donate for a cause when he knows so many people are without jobs.
Still, White, a Valparaiso resident paralyzed from the chest down after a 2003 accident, hopes people will come out and support the event, being held Saturday at Fairgrounds Park.
“It’s a very worthy cause,” said White, noting the number of people in the Northwest Indiana Spinal Cord Injury Support Group that he started a few years ago, is growing.
White has traveled to Washington, D.C., to support the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, which was signed by President Barack Obama in March.
The act has provisions for research into paralysis; paralysis rehabilitation and care; and improving the quality of life for people with paralysis and other physical disabilities, according to the Web site www.christopherreeve.org.
“I saw a law that could really help people,” White said.
Now, he’s hoping that greater awareness of spinal cord injuries and paralysis will help an even greater number of people.
He quotes a new study that says 1 in 50 individuals in the U.S. are living with some form of paralysis, whether from injury, stroke or another cause.
“Chances are, everybody knows somebody with paralysis,” White said.
While participation in the first walk, in 2007, was fairly strong, it dropped off some last year, White said, probably because of the weakening economy and the fact that it occurred just a week after torrential rains flooded much of the region.
A group from a spinal cord injury rehabilitation center in Mason, Ohio, is coming in for this year’s walk, and White hopes others follow their lead.
“I’m still excited about the walk this year, to see support from the community,” White said, adding those with paralysis “can meet with others and share information about their conditions.”
If you go:
Registration for the third annual Spinal Cord Injury Walk/Roll begins at noon Saturday at Fairgrounds Park, at Evans and Calumet in Valparaiso. A 5K fitness walk follows at 1 p.m.
The event also includes food, music, an auction and a 6 p.m. beanbag tournament. Go to www.unite2fightparalysis.org/nwiscig_walk for more information.
BY AMY LAVALLEY, POST-TRIBUNE CORRESPONDENT