Canadian paraplegic celebrity under fire over funding for spinal chord cures
By Dennis Tesolat , www.StemCellsandAtomBombs.blogspot.com
As the Rick Hansen Foundation’s (RHF) ‘Interdependence 2012’ conference on spinal cord injury research approaches, an international group of spinal cord injury cure campaigners want Mr. Hansen to reveal his exact plans, including funding, to get people out of wheelchairs.
Unwilling to be ignored, campaigners started an online appeal (www.bit.ly/HANSEN) in April 2012.
About 750 people from around the world have added their names to the demands for full disclosure regarding direct cure funding at the up coming RHF ‘Interdependence 2012’ conference, which will host over forty leading spinal cord injury experts, scientists and researchers from around the world, in Vancouver from 15 to 17 May. The appeal was sent today (date) to Mr. Hansen for his answers.
This new action was initiated because in July 2011, amid growing suspicion that despite the rhetoric, cure was not a priority for RHF, campaigners wrote to RHF CEO, Art Reitmayer, to ask him directly what percentage of funding was being spent to cure paralysis.
Despite repeated requests, Mr. Reitmayer refused to give any figures for cure funding, raising more red flags than if he had not answered the question at all (see http://bit.ly/HANSENQA for the questions and answers). Now cure campaigners are demanding real answers.
‘Rick Hansen has done some amazing work over the past 25 years but it seems to have lost its way when it comes to a cure. The science is now available and funding is desperately needed to ensure that this science gets from the lab and into people. I think it’s only fair that the RHF tell us how much they are contributing to making this happen’ says Ruth, who is paralysed from the chest down after a swimming accident three years ago.
The conference is an amazing opportunity for Rick Hansen to announce just how much his organisation will be spending on cure and for him to recommit himself to getting people walking. Cure campaigners who added their names to this appeal believe that organizations such as RHF who collect donations in the name of cure must actually spend on cure or face a backlash from the community.
Why would someone with a spinal cord injury donate funds to RHF for cure if there is little or no money being spent on a cure for chronic spinal cord injury? Whilst the group appreciates initiatives that aim to improve quality of life, they firmly believe that a cure will lead to the most improvements in quality of life, especially since researchers believe that a cure for chronic spinal cord injury is truly possible in the near future.