April 10, 2014
Sam Schmidt still defying odds
He stands as a testament to the unlimited power of the mind and the heart, proof that no obstacle can prevent one from having an impactful life.
March 17, 2014
Wheelchair netters serve up inspired play
For a special group of tennis players, it’s all about perseverance and determination in the face of adversity.
January 22, 2014
Spinal cord injuries in young people
Spinal cord injuries often involve young people but few teens and college students understand the potentially life-threatening risks that come with playing many popular sports.
HISTORY OF SSPF
The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation was created by Sam Schmidt to help individuals overcome spinal cord injuries and other neurological disorders. Sam sustained a C-3/4/5 spinal cord injury during a race testing accident on January 6, 2000, while practicing for the season-opening Indy Racing League event at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Florida.
While in a rehabilitation hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, Sam realized he was one of the lucky ones. He had an incredible support system including his faith, family and the motorsports community. He also realized he had very good insurance. Sam quickly learned these are not generally the demographics of someone with a spinal cord injury.
Sam vowed that when he was able to leave the rehabilitation hospital, he would not forget the less-privileged patients he met. He realized in order to solve some of their issues, he needed to raise awareness of spinal cord injury and the horrendous impact it has on the patient and family. Funds needed to be raised for medical research to develop cures and effective therapeutic treatments for paralysis. Thus, with the help of several of his closest friends, the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation was formed in May of 2000.
“Since my injury I have learned so much about the tremendous needs of people suffering from spinal cord injuries,” Schmidt says. “There are three areas on which I have asked the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation to concentrate its fund-raising efforts. The first is medical research. The second, innovative equipment that can be used for rehabilitation. And, third, I want to help people with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities by addressing quality of life issues”.
Founded in May of 2000, the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation is still growing and moving ahead. Schmidt's desire to beat paralysis drives him daily.
“I've come to understand why I'm here,” Schmidt says. “We're spreading the message that you need to stay in shape and keep working hard, because something is going to come. Frankly, I've come to the realization that I'm helping a lot more people now that I ever could as a driver.”
"Let's face it, my motivation in the Foundation is somewhat selfish,” he adds. “It was started out of my desire to walk again, but if I can help myself and thousands of others achieve this goal, that would be fantastic!"
Sam wants everyone to clearly understand that absolutely no funds raised by the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation are used in support of his racing team, Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Every dollar raised in the Foundation goes to support the organization's mission of helping individuals overcome spinal cord injuries and to facilitate research, treatment and rehabilitation. The Motorsports team's role is to raise awareness of the Foundation and paralysis issues.
The Foundation funds research with the highest level of integrity and future promise at institutions such as:
- Barnes Jewish Hospital
- Georgetown University School of Medicine
- Toronto Western Hospital Research Institute
- University of Iowa
- The University of British Columbia