Micki Purcell is the President and Founder of Walking With Anthony, but she's more than that. She is the lifeblood and inspiration of a movement to bring awareness and funding to the plight suffered by hundreds of thousands of people in the US alone, afflicting 10,000 more people every year: spinal cord injury.
Managing business development for an international cash card company, Micki knew how to meet financial challenges head-on consistently and successfully. But on February 6, 2010, the biggest obstacle she could ever face came quickly and tragically. Her son, Anthony Purcell, was in Miami enjoying a trip to the Super Bowl when a dive into Miami Beach went horribly wrong. Anthony suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed.
But paralyzed was a word Micki didn't permit into her vocabulary. In her eyes, paralyzed was a mindset, the acceptance of a final verdict, and she refused to accept any such thing. She was not one to be told what life would be like. For Micki, life was something, no matter how difficult, that every individual should face head-on with passion, determination, and vigor.
That's how Micki faced Anthony's paralysis. It was a hurdle to clear, not a label she would allow any medical professional to use to define her son.
It was six weeks before Anthony was medically cleared to enter rehab. But it was only 20 days of rehab before the insurance money ran out. At that point, Anthony's rehab hadn't even gone so far as to allow him to sit in a wheelchair without being strapped in. Fortunately, Micki and her husband Joe had enough money ($40,000) to pay for an additional two months of treatment. And they had another $50,000 to pay for a year of rehab at another facility (3 days a week of outpatient rehab . . . $50,000). Micki realized most people with SCI would have been finished after insurance ran out. She realized those people needed help. She also discovered Anthony needed to be a part of helping them.
Physically, Anthony was taking part in the rehab. But a year into recovery, Anthony was suffering emotionally and psychologically. Recovery wasn't happening, not even close. Micki would later say Anthony had the consistency of a noodle. So Micki decided she was starting a charity: Walking With Anthony. She was President, and she was naming Anthony Executive Director.
They haven't looked back since.