Very similar to what Roman Reed did in 1998 with the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of California, the brave TJ Atchison hopes to accomplish this and more in the great state of Alabama.
Yesterday, before a crowd of fifty close family members and friends, Senator Marc Keahey announced his plans to introduce the TJ Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Act in Alabama. This legislation would use funds generated from traffic violations such as reckless driving and DUI to support spinal cord injury research in our state.
Shortly after explaining the framework behind "TJ's Law," Senator Keahey passed the microphone to the young man who inspired him to take such a political stance on spinal cord injury research.
With a sweet smile across his face, and a determined tone in his voice, TJ Atchison read from a crinkled piece of computer paper in his lap:
"Good afternoon! I am TJ Atchison, the world’s first participant in our nation’s first ever federally approved clinical trial using human embryonic stem cell therapy and co-author of The Human Candidate. I am paralyzed from a car accident and fighting for a paralysis cure.
In firmly believing in the love, grace and sovereignty of God in creating and embracing human life, I also believe in the justification for sustaining a quality of life for myself, the 1.8 million Americans living with spinal cord injury paralysis, 5.6 million Americans suffering from some form of paralysis and all people living paralyzed. It is my desire to convey a message of hope and peace and provide answers for why I decided to participate in the highly controversial clinical trial that began on October 8, 2010.
So now I ask for your help in making the dreams of a paralysis cure a reality by supporting the TJ Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Act Authored by our great Senator Marc Keahey!
Our Law will impose a small $1 added sur-charge on all moving traffic violations, $5 for aggravated moving violations, and $10 for DUI - no taxes, or State general fund withdrawals – to fund the research for paralysis cure while creating jobs and giving hope to the paralyzed – all, right here within our great home State of Alabama.
Your support will strongly impact whether or not I spend the rest of my life confined to a wheelchair or accomplish my dream of walking again. We must fund the research for spinal cord injury cure.
I ask you: PLEASE STAND WITH ME, SO WE CAN ALL STAND WITH YOU!"
After a brotherly handshake, TJ passed the mic to his friend and mentor, Roman Reed.
Instantly, the advocate spirit came shining through, as Roman educated the crowd on the importance for finding a paralysis cure.
"The very first mention of paralysis was written inside the walls of an Egyptian tomb. It read, 'deny the paralyzed soldier water, for there is nothing that can be done.' For too long, that was the truth, but not now. Not anymore! There is MUCH that can be done, that WILL be done, and SHOULD be done."
Roman then shared a quote from one of his boyhood heroes, Jackie Robinson, "A life is not worth living, EXCEPT for the impact it has on others."
In closing of TJ's press conference, Roman referenced to a letter written by the late Christopher Reeve. The words from this letter sent chills across my arms and brought tears to nearly everyone in the crowd.
Roman read with such proudness and strength the words of his hero and friend. "Christopher Reeve wrote to me shortly after my football accident, saying 'One day Roman and I shall stand up from our wheelchairs and walk away from for forever.' Now that did not come in time for our Superman, but with your help (defining the audience), the cure will happen for me, TJ, the 1.8 million Americans suffering from spinal cord injury paralysis, and the 5.6 million Americans suffering from some sort of paralysis."
As the afternoon came to an end, it was in total agreement from the audience that this is where we go from here - the beginning of the future for research and healing!
I'd like to end by saying that it was an incredible honor and privilege to take part in yesterday's events. I am so proud of Senator Keahey - our knight in shining armor, the brave TJ, and the incredible Roman Reed for making this day happen. The brave and righteous actions taken yesterday will bring about our paralysis cure for today and tomorrow. Take care everyone, and have a great rest of the week! Much love, ~ Tory
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