By the looks of this picture, you wouldn’t guess that The Here and Now Project’s Second Annual Survivor and Supporters Meet Up in Tukwila last Sunday got off to a bit of a slow start. With a bunch of last-minute cancellations, a couple of the organizers organizers started to wonder if we just get lucky with our first event a year ago. The clock struck 2 PM and, not counting the amazing group of volunteers from Pima Medical Institute and Green River CC’s OTA programs, there were a whopping four of us. Fortunately, the floodgates opened moments later and we had a packed house by 2:30 PM.
All told, we had more than 30 paralysis Survivors under one roof with diagnoses spanning almost the entire length of the spine. There were people living with spinal cord injuries from C1 all the way down to S2, and survivors as early as three months post injury, and as far out as 50 years. And with a large group meeting as well as breakout meetings for Survivors using manual or power chairs, everyone had someone to talk to who had been in their shoes/wheels.
And at H&NP, we understand that paralysis doesn’t just affect the Survivor. Like a mobile above a child’s bed, when one person’s life goes through a dramatic shift, everyone in their support network is sent spinning as well. Which is why we designated a separate breakout meeting for paralysis Supporters, where parents, siblings and significant others were able to speak freely about their own struggles to adapt to a loved one’s paralysis.
We broke midway through the event to take the incomplete group photo above, which contains more than 500 years of paralysis experience by itself. And just like last year, we went around asking for constructive criticism, and we got one consistent response: “When’s the next one!?” This time, however, we only needed to direct them to our community calendar to find out what’s next as we continue to Do Life in the Here and Now!!
We must give tremendous thanks the folks at The Spinal Cord Injury Association of Washington for renting a terrific space, and to all the volunteers who made the event such a special experience for everyone in attendance!