There are over a million individuals living with spinal cord injuries or disorders including MS, ALS, spina bifida across the United States. United Spinal Association is a national organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of all people living with spinal cord injuries and other spinal complications. United Spinal was founded in 1946 by a group of paralyzed World War II veterans in New York City. Their goal was to advocate for better rights and independence for themselves and their fellow veterans because of the care they were currently receiving at the VA hospitals.
Today United Spinal supports people who have new injuries or existing injuries and are veterans. United Spinal’s main goal is to provide support and information to people who have had a spinal cord injury and their family members. Their membership reach is over 100,000 wheelchair users and over 50 member chapters. It provides services to 200 support groups throughout the United States.
The member chapters are an important part of United Spinal’s advocacy and out-reach. These chapters are groups or individuals who help bring information and community services to empower people who have spinal cord injuries.
Each year United Spinal Association hosts their National Chapter Leadership Meeting, where member leaders from over 50 affiliated chapters across the United States meet to discuss a multitude of topics to enrich chapter operations and outreach. This year Quantum and Pride were sponsors. Seth Johnson, Senior VP from Pride Mobility, and I attended, as well as members of the Quantum West team from North Las Vegas, Nick and Josh. They were able to answer questions about our products. I love when we attend these events where our Quantum team is interacting with my advocate friends.
Quantum and Pride have been loyal sponsors of this organization and their events for many years. I love when I connect with our advocates from United Spinal. They are a fiercely professional group of people who have obtained a spinal cord injury in their lifetime and help to spread awareness of programs and services for people with SCI in their communities and across the United States relating to spinal cord awareness.
I so love meeting people who are already experiencing the benefits of iLevel and seat elevation like Heather Woods from Boston, who has a yellow Quantum Edge 3 iLevel® Power Chair. Heather is a full-time mom and I understand how iLevel is really an advantage for her in her life with little ones. Seat elevation can really help mothers like Heather and myself. Heather is more visible at iLevel when she has her kids out in public and is a great safety feature when in public parking lots. Vehicles can visibly notice you because you are at a higher level just like when someone who is walking. When Quantum attends these events, it provides opportunities for people from around country to try our products and discover the benefits of iLevel for themselves.
Advocacy is not about one person. It is a team effort and United Spinal does a stellar job with educating and supporting their member chapters. The leadership meeting is essential for them to learn new procedures or issues to help their community chapters. This event is a great time to catch up with my mini me, Barb, from Johnston, PA. Barb is former Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Program Coordinator for United Spinak. I am so blessed to know Barb and I enjoy mentoring her. It is all about teamwork when it comes to advocacy.
United Spinal has a full-time staff to support their advocates in government affairs across the country and is always leading the way to help pass and educate important issues for people who have spinal cord injuries. To find out more on United Spinal go to unitedspinal.org.
About Madonna Long: Madonna works as a disability advocate to educate policymakers and congressional leaders on disability issues. She is a mother to four children and lives life on her terms, despite a spinal cord injury. Click here to learn more about Madonna.