Family Collage

Family Collage
Lots of Love in this Bunch!
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Powerful Afterword Written by Stem Cell Advocate of the World, Roman Reed!

For those of you who visit my blog and follow me on Facebook and Twitter, the name Roman Reed is no stranger to you as he is often referred to as my Hero and partner for research cures! Roman and I met via Twitter back in 2011, after my research for INEVITABLE COLLISION led me to finding the top patient advocate for stem cell research in the world. 

Not only has Roman been a great friend and ally on this quest for advancing stem cell research, he's also been a mentor to myself and many other patient advocates. He's taught me to embrace and appreciate the positive support and encouragement from others, and to turn the other cheek when hurtful comments or accusations are made. Most importantly, Roman has taught me to remain focused on our goal: Enabling Research Cures

In a book written by my great friend and a leading stem cell expert, Dr. Paul Knoepfler, titled Stem Cells: An Insider's Guide, Paul writes: "Patient advocates are heroes and achieve remarkable things. They have a knack for breaking down walls between patients and scientists! Some advocates go above and beyond the call of duty to be model advocates and I want to commend them for their leadership here." In the next paragraph Knoepfler adds, "Roman Reed is one of the model advocates. He won my blog's Stem Cell 2012 Person of the Year Award for many reasons. He is the complete package of a patient advocate."

So today, it is an honor and privilege to share Roman Reed's Afterword of our publication INEVITABLE COLLISION with you:

On September 10, 1994, my whole life changed. In a single second, I went from being one of America’s best college football players to being paralyzed. I had once been able to bench press 430 pounds, until that moment. I was unable to move even my arms. I was only nineteen years old. 

The doctor came into my hospital room and said, “Roman, I am sorry, but you will never move your arms and legs again or be able to father a child.”

My reply, “Never tell me never! Get out of my room!”

I remember thinking I had a choice to make. I could leave this hospital in time, with my prescriptions and appointments for occupational therapy in my crippled hand. I could justify receiving disability checks from the government and slip away into a fog of painkillers and sleeping pills. But I wanted more out of life. My second option seemed extremely daunting but more like me, the fighter: paralysis would not define or beat me. I would do something about it, and help find cures for all. For me, the choice and path of my life was clear.

And so my journey for cures began.

Paralysis is a devastating condition that can be overwhelming for anyone. Let alone a child suffering in a chair or bed for the rest of his or her life. How could I have looked at myself in the mirror if I had looked away from finding cures?

I quickly learned that in America we spend more on the annual care of our chronically injured than we bring in total federal income and corporate taxes COMBINED. That is unsustainable as a country. We can’t pay for defense, education, or infrastructure without borrowing from other countries. Thus, I wanted to find cures not only for myself and my disabled brethren, but also for the fiscal sovereignty and well-being of our country.

After spending twenty years advocating and attending thousands of meetings with top researchers around the globe, I learned the importance and power of stem cells. Today, I understand that if we fully embrace this novel technology, we can move closer to curing the diseased and disabled like me. The economic effects of having our chronically injured go from receiving government checks to being fully employed and paying taxes to the government instead—this would be a fiscal boom almost beyond imagination. I know there are many people that care about curing the paralyzed, about giving their memories back to those with Alzheimer’s, about curing cancer and extending lives. But with twenty-six states being led by legislatures that oppose this lifesaving research, we must acknowledge that our science is under attack and take serious action to protect it.

My home state of California plans for another ten years of research funding through “CIRM 2,” led again by my hero Robert Klein, who believes this is a way to tackle an ever-intensifying war on science. President Barack Obama might have loosened the restrictions on fed- eral funding for embryonic stem cell research in 2009, but some presidential hopefuls—one of whom could be elected in 2016—support reinstating the Bush-era restrictions or even an outright ban on funding the work.

This is why I believe, through this story, Tory has the potential to reach millions and educate our world on the importance and power of stem cell research. And I know from working with her for over three years, that she has the heart, mind, and passion for this challenge.

Tory has come a long way since I first met her in 2011. She had not yet developed as an advocate and biotech leader. She had many concerns and zero confidence, but all of that would quickly change.

At first we conferred in everything. We had to, as she was a rookie earning her wings, and I had over fifteen years of experience and wisdom to guide her. But early on, she proved that her unquestioned heart was in this for the purest intent: the cause of cure. Tory took a firm grip on this challenge and stood against friends, family, coworkers, and employers who tried to silence her. She was told to either shut up or face severe consequences.

But for you and I, Tory would not be silenced in her advocacy and just blossomed from there. Thus, it soon got to the point that I could trust her to fly free. To be the light in the darkness that she truly is.
So today as I humbly write my contribution to this amazing story, I am honored to have been given this opportunity to partner with Tory on our law in Alabama, this book that many said would never become a reality, our beloved AIM that thrives with over $1.2 million in re- search dollars, and our newest venture, VivoStem.

It is my prayer that her name will go down in the laurels and history books of her beautiful state of Alabama and across the nation as a medical heroine who fought so passionately for physical and mental equality of health for all. And though some may try, no one can denounce this, as I saw it firsthand.

Tory didn’t have to reach out for my help three years ago, or to compromise herself and her family to pass a law bearing another’s name. Regardless the countless challenges she endured, Tory worked 24/7 to establish programs and foundations, and now to be a driving force behind several spin-off companies that will create jobs and improve her state’s economy by advancing research and cures. Tory did all of this and so much more without ever asking once for anything in return. Not even the proceeds from this book are going into her pockets. Instead, Tory is pledging all to stem cell research and development, which is a commitment I have personally never witnessed. I am certain that God gave me Tory for this fight for cures, and I am optimistic that He will bless our efforts to help others.

Now moving forward, even closer toward our goals for cure, Tory and I hope that you will join us in this endeavor of spreading awareness and raising crucial funds for stem cell research. Just as actor Michael Douglas said while playing President Andrew Shepherd in the film The American President, “People don’t drink the sand because they are thirsty, they drink the sand because they know no other way.” Thus, when people are aware, there is no controversy.

An important fact to remember during your own advocacy for stem cell research: This technology does not destroy life; instead, stem cell research gives a deserving, independent life to those who are alive in spirit and mind but are dying on the inside from disease or injury.

Because I wear a lot of hats in my own relentless pursuit of cures, I am blessed that all of my positions meld into one that resonates my true purpose of contributing to a better life for all people. From being there to talk with a new paralyzed person to strategic stem cell alliance building, meeting with donors, keeping up with science updates and lab tours to being a social media fanatic, giving keynote speeches like my recent appearances at the World Stem Cell Summit and the National Neurotrauma Symposium, getting involved in local politics as planning commissioner and state politics as my recent campaign for state senate election, run- ning my own foundation, helping pass a research law internationally with Perry Cross in Australia, and back to our great work in Alabama, which includes partnering with all of the states in the single and relent- less pursuit of medical cures.

Most important, I am a doting father to three of the most amazing kids ever, named Roman Jr., Jason Troy, and my princess Katherine. And I am absolutely unequivocally certain that we will see stem cell cures in our lifetime. How many and how quickly are contingent upon funding and support of this research. I have given my life to this cause of making cures happen, and my life shall not be in vain.

I will walk again. You have my oath. And great people like you can help us reach this goal. Please take a stand for stem cell research, so that one day we can all stand together. 

~ Roman Reed