Written by: Pirie Jones Grossman
“Expanding your donor base will be difficult — in the beginning there was a core group of people who knew about my story and the reasons for starting the foundation, now the challenge is bringing that story to a mass audience and conveying the importance of the fundraising that we are doing.”
~ Matthew Wetherbee
Matthew Wetherbee is the Founder and President of the MW Fund, a charitable organization whose mission is to provide scholarships to individuals who have suffered traumatic spinal cord injuries and need specialized SCI rehabilitation not covered by insurance. This is his story:
My favorite life lesson, which has turned into my daily mantra, is “Focus on the Positive.” In fact, these were the first words I was able to speak post-accident and surgery. A visitor had come to spend time with me, and was probably nervously filling the silence by complaining about something work related, and I said: “focus on the positive” to him. So many negative things happen daily so you really have to look at every situation and handle it in that moment.
On June 7, 2016, three days before my 29th birthday, I suffered a significant spinal cord injury (SCI) while playing basketball, a sport I loved and had played since middle school. After my injury, I spent two months at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by three months at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital working on my recovery before I was able to go home. Although I remain paralyzed below my shoulders, I have made huge progress since my injury — which I credit to my four-times weekly therapy at a specialized rehabilitation facility that serves clients with SCI.
I decided to launch the MW Fund when I quickly realized how important it was for those living with SCI to have access to daily exercise and therapy. Once leaving a rehab hospital and being discharged from outpatient therapy, insurance often does not cover the cost of exercise facilities specializing in SCI (typically costing a minimum of $100 per hour). This is difficult for most to afford given the extra costs associated with SCI, which is why the sole mission of the MW Fund is to award scholarships to deserving individuals in order to offset these financial burdens.
When someone suffers a traumatic injury like this, there are an incredible amount of physical and mental changes that occur, most that you cannot control. Attending this specialized therapy was so incredibly important to me, it was something I looked forward to and my recovery became something that I felt I was finally in control of. Not only was it helping me become physically stronger and healthier, it was helping me mentally. I have experienced firsthand too many instances where individuals cannot attend this specialized therapy because of the cost, or had been cut off from other funding which resulted in the discontinuation of their recovery program. On average, 50–60% of clients are on some sort of financial assistance to attend. The need is high, and this triggered me to figure out a way to help.
Since the MW Fund’s inception, we have successfully awarded $154,000 in scholarships to 15 deserving individuals, and an additional $22,000 to SCI-related services! We recently hired an Executive Director in order to help grow and expand our organization as we prepare to launch new initiatives to help as many people living with SCI as we can.
Read Pirie Jones Grossman’s article in its entirety at: Authority Magazine.