Walking With Anthony’s mission is to redefine recovery from spinal cord injury: every day a farther reach, a stronger push, a higher stand.
We refuse to accept the limitations of what can be done, what can be expected, or what never will change. Walking With Anthony is committed to:
- Educate/Raise Awareness about the challenges imposed by spinal cord injury (SCI) and the need to increase the quality of life for all who suffer from it
- Expand SCI Rehab Centers to ensure all who can benefit from dedicated facilities and communities for SCI rehab have access to them
- Provide Financial Assistance to Individuals with SCI to help meet the often suffocating, even impossible demands of paying for essential treatment not covered by standard insurance
Every year, thousands of people encounter life-changing injuries, joining nearly half a million individuals with SCI. Tragically, thousands of indviduals with SCI are trapped in wheelchairs when they don’t have to be. We repeat, people with SCI don’t have to be trapped. There is hope. There is a way out of that seemingly hopeless trap of believing that life beyond the despair is over. It isn’t just the voices in their head saying it. Every single day, many medical establishments and professionals tell these individuals with SCI they will never walk again.
And if we leave it at that, those words will be true.
Although proven therapies and solutions for those with SCI are already in existence, they are unavailable to the average person, especially people who have very likely lost what they previously knew to be their livelihoods. Insurance does not cover it. It takes hundreds of thousands of dollars to get just one victim out of a wheelchair. This astronomical cost is what prohibits many people from the reality of walking again.
Walking With Anthony gives individuals with SCI a way out. But for them to do that, we need to take the first step . . . together.
Donate today and help Walking With Anthony provide access to the therapies that have miraculously helped many people get stronger, live healthier, and have the opportunity to walk again. So much hard work, facilities, equipment, and therapy lie ahead for the people suffering from SCI. The very first step, the act of giving to help pay for what they need to live healthy, thriving, even walking lives, is that first gift from you.
In the late morning of February 6, 2010, Anthony Purcell dove into the waters of Miami Beach, something he'd done many times before without incident. This time, he misjudged the depth of his landing spot, broke his neck, and bruised the C5 and C6 vertabrae in his spine. He injured his spinal cord. He was paralyzed, unable to resurface from the water on his own.
Thanks to the quick rescue efforts of his cousin Bernie who pulled him from the waters and the emergency personnel who quickly arrived at the scene, Anthony's life was saved. But his life would never be the same.
Physical rehabilitation commenced soon after. Initial, intensive rehab at a dedicated facility typically requires an average of 3 to 6 months for a patient with spinal cord injury. Anthony's insurance coverage ran out after 20 days. His case wasn't the exception. It was the norm. Standard insurance, even excellent insurance, simply doesn't cover rehab the way individuals suffering from SCI need it. The Purcell family was shocked, horrified, and instantly committed to doing something about it.
As for Anthony himself, his family was able to afford rehab treatment at another facility. Anthony was one of the few individuals with SCI who was able to continue to receive the treatment he needed and access the equipment and assistance necessary to live beyond the depressing, defeating resignation of accepting the standard medical prognosis: "You're just going to have to get used to living in a wheelchair."
Anthony didn't accept that life sentence. His mother, Micki Purcell, refused even to accept the word paralysis for her son, and she wouldn't accept it for the thousands upon thousands of other people each year who would suffer spinal cord injuries. She founded a charity in Anthony's name, Walking With Anthony, and fueled it with her love and passion for laying a new pathway for people with spinal cord injuries to follow. Her vision and fierce resilience have given Anthony and so many people like him something they needed just as much as therapy: hope.
Even with access to the therapy he needed, Anthony still struggled with the depression and hopelessness everyone with SCI faces. The personal struggle over SCI is more than one person can face alone. Anthony understands the emotional anguish that comes with SCI like no one else can. He has met with hundreds of his brothers and sisters in the SCI community and given them a sense of assurance and purpose they might never find without the help of Anthony and this foundation.
Walking With Anthony has helped Anthony join forces with others trying valiantly to walk the path of living victoriously over the physical, emotional, social, and financial challenges of SCI. and everyone who supports Walking With Anthony joins them on that journey.
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.
Whereas many charities donate primarily to research for finding a cure or at least new treatment for SCI, Walking With Anthony focuses on the very intense but very attainable work of recovery through rehab. Legitimate, difference-making answers that can help those with SCI are already here, people just lack the funds to pay for them.
Through the charitable work of Walking With Anthony, and the many people like you who have become involved in supporting it, our heroes with SCI can get the treatment they desperately need and the financial assistance to make it happen that they simply couldn't come up with on their own.
Micki loves nothing more than seeing lives changed through the funds dispersed by Walking With Anthony as well as the close-knit community of support the Walking With Anthony team provides.
And Micki has made such a difference by building Walking With Anthony into more than just a foundation that helps families individually. It is a community of those with SCI and their families who share the struggle together. Micki has been the heart and soul of that effort, bridging that gap between the isolation, loneliness, and hopelessness every family affected by SCI feels and the togetherness, community, and hope Walking With Anthony provides.
Micki has helped hundreds of families in so many ways: teaching them how to successfully negotiate with insurance companies, guiding them in the process of retrofitting their homes, and helping find the best caregivers, navigating the system of social services. More than that, Micki is an emotional hero for parents desperate for an understanding ear and a compassionate shoulder to lean on. She is an emblem of hope, assuring families that there is a bright future and a life of joy ahead.