In Kelly’s Words – It Takes a Village
They say it takes a village to raise a child. But I don’t think that saying only applies to parenting. I think it takes a village for anyone to be able to live their best life. We all can live and get by, but to truly thrive we need a community around us that is supportive, that lifts us up when we stumble, that guides us when we can’t see, and that pushes us to find our way in life.
I have spoken many times about the support I received after my injury and how so many communities rallied around me – the Middlebury community, the ski community, the Vermont community, and my friends and family. The walls of my hospital rooms were covered with cards; I still have all nine of the Vermont Teddy Bears that I received while in the hospital; we had more than 30,000 visits to the CaringBridge site that gave updates on my rehab (this was 2006, social media wasn’t really a thing…). On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of my injury in February I looked through the comments on those posts and cannot overstate how impactful that support was in encouraging and supporting me while I figured out how to live my new life in a wheelchair. Over the last 15 years that community has only grown and continued to have my back in being that presence for others with this injury.
One of our guiding principles for growth and progress at the Kelly Brush Foundation is focus on community. You have undoubtedly heard us talk about the impact of a single piece of equipment on a person’s life, how it can help them build their own community around being active. Now we are doubling (tripling?) down on building community, both within the spinal cord injury (SCI) community and with those who are willing to be our support network.
We launched a new community building platform and resource last month called the Active Project (read the press release about it here). The Active Project is the first attempt to bring all the available information about being active with a SCI together into one website and enable real-life connections. It will create an even greater sense of community for those feeling isolated by their SCI and made worse by the pandemic.
But the KBF community is greater than our 1,000+ grant recipients. It includes anyone who has supported the KBF in any way, whether you’ve donated to the Kelly Brush Ride, attended an Inspire! event, served on a host or grant committee, or just followed along this blog or our social media. This KBF community is a support system for the SCI community
To continue to build that network of support, I’m excited to invite you to become a KBF Trailblazer and join a community of people making recurring monthly gifts that will help people with SCI at every stage from injury to independence. Trailblazers will fund experiences, instructional camps, innovative resources, and, of course, support high-impact equipment purchases.
Talking about community is not new for us, but the last year of COVID has driven home just how important it is for the KBF to bring people together exactly when it is needed most. COVID prevented the coming together that is so vital to fill us up. We don’t go to soccer games, church, or out to dinner. We don’t run into friends whom we wouldn’t typically call or meet up with, but seeing them brings great joy. We have missed out on the rituals that we never thought twice about – weddings, funerals, and holiday gatherings.
But when there is a challenge, we adapt in ways we never thought possible. “We should Zoom” meant nothing a year ago. I drove by a house a couple days ago with three people sitting outside all more than six feet apart and wearing masks. It was no more than 20 degrees out and they were all bundled up, but I’m certain they were happy to be together.
As I’ve discussed many times the last year, the feeling of isolation is nothing new to the SCI community, and many of us have been disproportionally impacted by the new isolation of COVID. This has inspired us at the Kelly Brush Foundation to work on new ways to create community to support those with SCI anywhere on their journey from injury to independence because we know, first hand, the importance of community for everyone.
By becoming a Trailblazer for the KBF you are both joining and building our community. You’re making a continued commitment to a community that, like you, just wants the richness of life that comes from that wind-on-your-face, heart pumping, pure joy of hitting the trail, road, or court. Regardless of your monthly commitment, the community is what matters. I hope you will consider joining!
Join Trailblazers: kellybrushfoundation.org/trailblazers