Thursday, December 19, 2013

December Update

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

I had a great time spending several days in the Raleigh area and seeing friends and family. I have been keeping pretty busy with therapy and working on things for The Walk On Foundation. If you have not already, I ask you to please like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. You can just click the logos you see on the website to do so and don’t worry! I only post things 1-2 times a week tops so if you follow or like us it will not dominate your news feed. Also please ask your friends and contact to do the same.

I do have some things planned for 2014 I am pretty excited about that I will announce closer to the dates and once the details have firmed up. In the meantime, my plans are to create awareness and do grassroots fundraising for spinal cord injury therapies via word-of-mouth and social media. My hope is to make a big difference by getting a large amount of small donations from many contributors. I also plan to apply for some corporate gifts and I have some leads on some names of folks who could also help me gain some additional press.

I have been keeping busy with my weekly workouts at Race To Walk as well as doing my home therapy and working on the foundation. I am also working on finding a JOB! I have worked some since my accident and was lucky to have a very accommodating job for a while in Atlanta and I am trying to find something here in Charlotte also. I have been applying for some part-time jobs as well as some full-time. I would really like to end up in some type of medical sales position whether it is selling medical equipment or supplies or even pharmaceutical. I have gained a lot of medical knowledge and formed many relationships with doctors and therapists since my accident that I would like to put to use in a career. I am also working on a certification that should help me get into the industry.

Also of note is the fact that I finally took my first post-accident flight in late October. It was something I have kind of been avoiding and putting off over the last few years. Of course it was not as bad or as annoying as I thought and I am glad I have gotten that first time out of the way. I was the first one on the plane and the last one off. Getting on first was fine but being off last was a bit frustrating since several people in the back of the plane took forever to get off and I and the flight attendants could not figure out what these folks were doing. Also the gate coming back to Charlotte was quite possibly the furthest one from baggage claim so wheeling that long mostly uphill way was not very fun for my shoulders.

I flew to NYC to visit my friend and former teammate Carl Lentz. I had a great time seeing his family as well as his church family at Hillsong NYC. I had been up to see him once before but this was my first trip solo and involving airports. I could not have asked for anyone to make it any easier on me. They really took care of me and treated me so well that I hated to leave. We went to a NY Knicks game, a few dinners, got haircuts and just hung out over the few days I visited. On Sunday I got to see Pastor Carl preach at four of six services that they hold on in Manhattan on Sundays. Watching Carl has been just amazing. He is really good at what he does and has a unique ability to connect and impact all types of people. I invite you all to watch the message I watched Pastor Carl give that Sunday I hope to make a return trip once it warms up next year.

I do not know if anyone realizes it, but I just hit the five year anniversary of my accident. A friend of mine text me knowing that we were very close to my accident date but she thought it was year four. She told me how far I had come and how proud she was of that. I replied back saying thanks but that it is actually five years but I that I have basically only been out of bed for about four years on this recovery journey. I have tried to continue to not let that consume my life so much by trying to further my education and working to try to figure out a new career. I know I will not give up on getting back on my feet but I do continue to diversify my focus.

It is crazy that Christmas is only a few days away. I hope that everyone enjoys Christmas and gets to enjoy some time with friends and family. I will be headed to the Raleigh area for a few days and look forward to seeing friends and family and hopefully an NCSU win or two in basketball. I also want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and look forward to sharing some things with you in 2014.

Thanks, as always, for your continued interest and support!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Let's wish Brian a Happy Birthday!

Hi All!

Many of you have expressed such support for Brian & newly-formed The Walk On Foundation.  Thank you!

Here's your chance to show even more how much you stand behind Brian & his mission to bring back mobility to those without it--

Like Faye, Iris, & Owen above, let's show Brian we support him & the cause of helping ALL those with life-limiting mobility issues with a birthday contribution to The Walk On Foundation.

Brian already has a sizable check for Dr. Wise Young's research studies ready, thanks to your help & a goal to have another one through birthday gift contributions for Dr. Young.

There are so many exciting things going on in spinal cord injury research.  The right physical therapy alone can do wonders for so many with paralysis!

So, wish Brian a Happy Birthday & donate today!  Let's see how much we can raise with just a $5.00 donation & spreading the word through Facebook & Twitter (or just old-school email if you are like me) to our contacts.

Can't wait to see what we can do!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Walk On Foundation

Some of you have known for a while but for those who do not, I just finished launching my newly-formed non-profit organization called The Walk On Foundation! I sent out an announcement email to most of my contacts this past Monday. Please check out the website:

It is something I have been looking to do since this past spring, but, like most things, it took a little bit longer than I expected. There was a lot more paperwork and set up fees than I ever would have imagined. For starters, there was a 41-page application and almost $1,000 in fees to the IRS and the state of North Carolina alone. Fortunately, I was able to have some great people willing to help me out with the legal work, the logo, and even website for little to no cost.

I took my motivation to start The Walk On Foundation from all the help I have received since my accident in addition to all the exciting a promising therapies being worked on by some of the great doctors I have been fortunate to connect with. With another late summer visit to Kennedy-Krieger and Rutgers University this year, I was able to see first-hand evidence that some of the more promising therapies in the works have participants moving muscles they have not moved in over 15 years! It also became more evident that the largest obstacle in making these trial therapies a reality, like a lot of things, is funding. That is why I decided to launch The Walk On Foundation.

The first several months we will be counting on grassroots fundraising to help bring awareness and financial help to this cause. Ideally, I want to get all my contacts to become aware of this need and what is going on in the research world. Please take a moment to check out the website and click on the links or logos to follow or like and even donate in any amount in support of this venture. I am confident with your help, we can make a positive impact on many others suffering with paralysis or from neurological conditions.

Again I think that there is a lot of potential in what we can do through The Walk On Foundation. It is a great opportunity to improve the quality of life of people who have been confined to wheelchairs or may become limited in mobility one day. Thanks again for your help and support!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Update from Brian

July has been a pretty busy and eventful month. I have told some people but I decided to move from Atlanta back to Charlotte. The biggest factor in this decision was getting back closer to friends and family. When I was living in Charlotte it was not a big deal to get in the car to come for my nieces' or nephew's birthday or to see family or friends but the 6.5 hour ride from Atlanta to Raleigh was a little much. I am actually buying a one level town home in north Charlotte. I have rented several places over the last few years and I have seen rental rates continue to rise and have begun to get a little out of hand. I understand wanting to make a profit but I feel some of these apartment properties are getting a little greedy and capitalizing on the lack of purchasing ability many Americans have for now. With interest rates still fairly low I was able to get a small town home with a garage for less than rent of smaller apartments I used to stay at less than a mile away. I am right across the street from North Lake Mall, 7 miles from my cousin, and about 15 miles from Race To Walk where I plan to continue my recovery workouts in a very similar fashion. I was able to use my experience from helping others buy investment real estate in Charlotte to find something that would be easy to either sell or rent out if I need to or decide to leave the Charlotte area. With a tenant living in this property for the last two years and the rental rates of nearby properties I know that I could rent it out for $250-$400 more than my monthly mortgage with taxes and insurance plus the HOA. I am also lucky to have my wonderful aunt as my broker and she was kind enough to wave her commission which combined with my 2012 tax return accounted for the majority of my small down payment.

Overall I spent about 20 months in Atlanta and while I did not make the progress I had hoped for, I did get stronger. I am done there with my weekly therapy but will still be going down to check-in every 3 months or so. I am still going strong with the electrical stim trial I am doing with the supervision of the folks in research at Shepherd as well as the Kinesiology Department in Athens at UGA. I have been sticking with it despite the results being slow and uncertain. I did head to UGA for some testing in early July and we were pleased to see that my muscle tissue was converting from mostly fat back to normal muscle. This is important because if I had or will reconnect any signals it will not do much good if the signals connect to fat.

My experience with the device has been up and down. I made some pretty quick gains in muscle mass which made my freakishly skinny legs look more normal but as I went up with the program and intensity I suffered some burns that really halted my progress. Thankfully a few months ago I switched from rubber electrodes to sponges. It was pretty hard for me to wrap my head around using sponges and water with electric current but it is so much easier on the skin. The device intensity ranges from 0-300 milliamps and with the electrodes I suffered burns at 160-170 and I am at 220 with the sponges and my skin doesn’t even get very red. I am slowly creeping up the intensity and hope that it leads to further gains. The new electrodes and positive testing has definitely reenergized me to stick with the 2.5 hour six days a week training routine.

July was also a time we decided to make trips back to Baltimore and Rutgers to check in with the doctors, therapists and research people we have gotten connected with over the last few years. I look forward to these visits and sharing what we have learned in the coming weeks.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Update from Brian

Things have calmed down for me over the last couple of months. I was pretty busy with finishing up classes and continuing with therapy at Shepherd, along with my electric stimulation device as well as making the trip up to Raleigh for the 4th annual Hope To Walk golf event in May.

I thankfully finished up with my project management certification program in mid-May. It really was not all that hard just extremely time consuming, which actually led two of my partners to leave the program early. Every week we would have one individual project and one team project due. These assignments ranged from four to 64 pages and really did not include charts or graphs and were typically just long word documents! I now have completed the required class hours needed to sit and take the first level exam for becoming a certified project manager. I actually purchased some practice exam software to begin to prepare and hope to be ready to take it in a few months. I feel the classwork more or less had us acting as if we were project managers and the exam looks like it is focused more on the basic fundamentals and definitions used in project management, so in a way I have a lot of preparing to do.

A week or so after finishing my final class project I came to Raleigh for the charity golf event that I am very lucky to have had put on for me the last few years. It is hard to believe that this was the fourth one held and as always it went really well. It always brings together such an amazing group of people with friends and family as well as supporters and members of the NC State basketball family. I am not sure how many more times this event will be held but I do expect there to be some changes sooner than later. We may consider moving the event to a different location with the golf course fees at Lonnie Poole just getting a bit too high. Also depending on my progress over the remainder of the year I would like to maybe change the focus of the event. I have shared this with some of you but I am in the progress of starting my own non-profit organization which will focus on raising money to help bring life improving therapies to people with spinal cord injuries. The more I have learned the more it has become apparent that while the science of function restoring therapies is challenging it is the money that remains the biggest obstacle.

There is a lot of paperwork involved in getting this setup and ready to be put into action. I have had to get incorporated, get an employee ID number, write bylaws, pay a few fees and finish up some lengthy applications. I hope to have this done in the next couple of weeks and I will share more information as soon as I wrap things up.

I feel like I never show enough appreciation for the continued support I have received over the last few years. I spend most of my time at the Hope To Walk golf event riding around talking to people and especially thanking them for coming out. I have a lot of thank you letters and emails to send out over the next few weeks and with the way some of the accounting is handled it is not always clear who has done what so I apologize if I miss anyone. I do plan to get back to updating this blog a little more frequently since I have a little bit more time now and I will have a lot of things to share over the next few weeks and months. With school and therapy being kind of status quo I haven’t had much time or info to share but I know that is changing.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thanks to Everyone for Another Great Year!

Brian hopes to have an update for everyone the meantime please enjoy this wonderful highlights video & story from Go!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ruckus Fund Raising Frenzy Monday, May 6th & Tuesday, May 7th

Come on out to either Ruckus location for some great food, great fun, & a great cause!  

Be sure to download the flyer here to print & bring with you--we will see you there.  

Again, many thanks again to Ruckus for their ongoing support! 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hope to Walk T-Shirts Will Be Available!

Hard to believe that May is upon us!  We are once again so excited about seeing you all at this year's Hope to Walk golf & bowling events.

We will have t-shirts for sale once again this year ($12), similar to the logo/colors above.  Last year's design went over quite well & we love this year's even more!

ALL monies from t-shirt sales (rather than just a percentage cut or profits, which is so often the case with services, venue fees, etc. for non-profit events) will go directly to support Brian's uninsured medical expenses.  If you know you would like to order, please send me an email (Kara, indicating the amount & size & we will hold those for you.  T-shirts can be made available in toddler & child sizes & would be great with a Sharpie for autographs from some of the wonderful athletes & coaches who will be out on the course!

The logo once again was designed, pro-bono, by Joe Warner, who was my "little buddy" (too) many years ago in college.  He finished up school in Graphic Design about two years ago & is working to get his name out there & pick up more work.  He does great work so if you need this sort of thing, get in contact with him at

Again, ALL monies go to support Brian AND you will be helping get Joey's name out there too--two great causes!

Thanks, as always, for all your support!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Just Finalized--Bowling for Brian Once Again This Year

Check the flyer image above for details.  Always fun, especially for those of us with littles.  Please bring the family out & we will see you there!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Save the Date!

Hi Everyone!

Preparations for the 4th annual Hope to Walk golf tournament are underway!

This year, we will be teeing off on Friday, May 17th once again at the Lonnie Poole course on NC State's Centennial Campus.

Links to the registration & sponsorship forms can be found here.

Spread the word & mark your calendars! It's a GREAT time every year!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

January Update

Happy New Year to everyone!!!

I hope you all had a good time over the holidays.

I spent about a week in Raleigh/Cary and mostly spent time with my family. I also was able to take my nephew, Owen, to his first NC State basketball game at the PNC Arena. I also had my dad and Owen's dad/my brother in law come with us and I think everyone had a good time. NC State beat Saint Bonaventure pretty easily.

We got to the arena a little early and got to go to the locker room to meet Coach Gottfried and some of his staff and players.  Owen is still pretty young being only five, probably a little too young to appreciate the people he is meeting but that may change as he gets a little bit older and I hope to continue to get him to at least one game a year.

Owen & me at NCSU game
The holidays also got me a few weeks off from school after finishing my first semester in Project Management.  I earned a B for the semester and was glad to get the first two classes over and done with.  We start back up in the middle of January.

Some other good news is that the burns I suffered on my legs from the e-stim unit have finally healed and I am working on catching back up from the three months I lost, as it took that long to heal.  We are being a little more cautious this time around to lessen the chances of the burning occurring again. It always seems like I am doing pretty good, getting a little stronger and making a little bit of progress and then I have a setback.  It has been burns, fractures, infections and a few other things seem to pop up from time to time.  I have never been one for New Year resolutions but my goal for 2013 is to not have any other setbacks!  It is good to get back to the e-stim though.  It is still the therapy I am doing that has the most potential for good results.  I knew it would be a marathon and not a sprint to see what this therapy would amount to.  Even though I have lost about three months I do know it is changing my lower body. 

Recently I did go back and take a look at a picture of my legs before I started the therapy and one about six months in and you can see that my muscles are getting bigger and more defined--that is a good thing!  I knew that my muscle mass would increase but again it hopefully will eventually lead to voluntary movement. We will just have to stick with and see what happens but it will probably be another five to six months until I know and that is without any other setbacks.  It is good to sometimes be able to take a step back to see how things are changing because I do get frustrated with things, knowing the progress can be so slow and even feel like it is not occurring.  Taking a step back and looking at things like pictures is proof that I have made positive gains and fuels me to stick with it and hope for more.
Leg six months into e-stim
Leg before e-stim therapy