Monday, March 21, 2011

An Interview With a WYCD Fan

Occasionally, we get emails from fans about different issues and/or organizations that have had an impact on their life. We love these! After all, What You Can Dowas created for the public as a way to encourage all of us to make small changes that can have a big impact. One email that recently came our way was from Chaz Southard. Chaz wanted to let us in on an organization that has had a major effect on his life. The organization is called and Chaz is not only a fan of theirs, but is also an active volunteer. Read below to find out more about Chaz and And, as always, we'd like to hear from you - even if it's just to say hello and nice work!

Read our interview with Chaz below:

How did you get involved with

Several years ago I sustained a spinal cord injury (SCI) and I looked to the path of hope carved by Christopher Reeve. Christopher Reeve credits a neuroscientist by the name of Dr. Wise Young for opening up the possibilities of a cure. After I learned that Dr. Wise Young is now starting clinical trials in the United States with the goal of curing paralysis I wanted to contribute in any way possible. When I realized that I could offer some of my web design knowledge to contribute to this organization I jumped at the chance.

Why do you think it's an important organization? is an unique patient driven organization that directly contributes to initiating clinical trials to help cure spinal cord injury. Since ancient times, spinal cord injury has been a permanent condition that results in loss of motor and sensory function. This organization is the synthesis and collaboration between patients and scientists. It is the first organization that I’m aware of that promises that all funds will directly contribute to real life treatments and not basic laboratory science.

What is the importance of clinical trials?

Clinical trials are a critical step to developing treatments. In order for a discovery to receive FDA approval, a clinical trial needs to be conducted in order to provide evidence of safety and efficacy. Legitimate clinical trials also help to change paradigms. It is the most direct way for doctors and insurance companies to provide treatment to patients.

You volunteer for this organization, what has your volunteering experience been like?

As a person living with a spinal cord injury, I find great meaning and hope in volunteering my time and being an active part in creating a solution. It is immensely rewarding to help and be able to take part in changing history. I feel that my involvement is directly helping relieve suffering and is creating hope for those living with injuries.

If someone is inspired to help, what one-minute action can you recommend?

I would recommend reading about the history and mission of and contribute one dollar by clicking the “Donate” sign in upper right corner.

Is there anything else that you'd like people to know about this issue?

Every dollar matters. I think there’s a great opportunity here to help eradicate an injury that has plagued human beings since antiquity. People with SCI need support and treatments. No treatments exists. For comparison, nearly 50% of people with cancer have the opportunity to be randomized in clinical trials. This compares with less than 0.1% of people with spinal cord injuries. We need the support and awareness. Since the passing of Christopher Reeve many with this injury are lost and in need of a leader. This organization is part of making Christopher Reeve’s vision a reality.

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