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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: University of Alabama Birmingham, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Ceremonial Bill Signing for the TJ Atchison SCI Research Program

From left: Senator Keahey, TJ, and Governor Bentley
Yesterday Governor Bentley officially signed TJ's bill which approved funding for the TJ Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Program. Sponsored by Senator Marc Keahey (D-Grove Hill), this initiative was passed by the Alabama State Legislature on May 16th which allocated $400,000 in research funding to the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine.

Details of the bill and the work that we did to accomplish this goal are available here.

A recap of the ceremony

Representative Elaine Beech from Washington County, friends, family, supporters of TJ, along with Dr. Candace Floyd and other UAB staff  had the opportunity to meet with Governor Bentley and the legislative bill author, Senator Marc Keahey, for a ceremonial bill signing at the Capitol. Those of us who were lucky enough to attend the ceremony were pleased to share this special day with TJ and his family.

Governor Bentley having a private chat with TJ 
We knew that Governor Bentley was extremely busy and had many things on his agenda (such as visiting families of south Alabama who were impacted by storm, Isaac, earlier in the week), and so we expected that the ceremony would be quick. However, when the Governor came to meet us in the beautiful Old Office Chamber Room of the Capitol, he took the time to speak with TJ about his goals for being a patient advocate, then asked if we had any questions for him.

My daughter Catie, Governor Bentley, and TJ's sister Alyssa
Governor Bentley was such a gracious host. He held the hands of our little ones and encouraged them to be great students, friends, and to work hard in their schools and communities.

From left: Senator Keahey, Tucker McDonald, Anita & Carey McDonald, Governor Bentley, Representative Elaine Beech; Bottom: Alyssa and TJ
When there were no more picture requests or questions left to ask, the Governor seated himself at a desk in the center of the room and we gathered around him for the bill signing ceremony. After we had our group photo taken, the Governor handed out pens with his name on them to TJ and the children gathered around his chair.

In all, Governor Bentley spent about 25 minutes with our group. It was obvious that he enjoyed chatting with us and with TJ, as his staff finally had to inform him that it was time for the visit to end. Indeed, we were honored by the whole experience!

After tons of persistence and determination, TJ and I were thrilled to say, "WE DID IT!" 
Celebratory luncheon
Program Administrator for the TJ Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Program,
Dr. Candace Floyd (standing), welcomed our group to the special luncheon held at
Central Restaurant in Montgomery.
Of course our hearts were filled with such joy and happiness for what had been triumphantly accomplished, but our group sorely missed the company of our dear friend and ally Roman Reed .

November 11, 2011, the beginning of "TJ's Law"
 From left: Me, Bonnie Blackwell, Roman Reed, and TJ
Because of Roman's commitment to pass AB 1657 ( This bill will raise funds to sustain the Roman Reed SCI Research Fund at UC Irvine’s Reeve-Irvine Center) in his home state of California, Roman was unable to make the trip to Bama for Governor Bentley's bill signing.

TJ's program at UAB would never have been possible had it not been for Roman's instrumental roll in the formation and passing of Senator Keahey's legislation. So on behalf of our TEAM, I would like to say thank you to Roman for everything he has done to encourage and help TJ in his mission for paralysis cure.

"From Alabama to California, TJ and I fight together so that one day soon, all who suffer from a spinal cord injury / paralysis can stand with you!" ~ Roman Reed

Please stay tuned to Head in the Clouds as more pictures from this special day will be posted soon. Take care and have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Much love, Tory

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2. It's Official: Funding for the TJ Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Program has passed in Alabama!

(AP Photo/Dave Martin, file photo from April 12, 2012, as the Alabama House is seen in Session.)
I am thrilled to report that funding for the TJ Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Program has been approved by the Alabama State Legislature and is expected to be signed by Governor Bentley very soon. Sponsored by Senator Marc Keahey (D-Grove Hill), this initiative will provide approximately $400,000 in research funding to the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine.

The money will be administered by Dr. Candace Floyd, Interim Director of Clinical Research for the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. "This is an important initiative that will go a long way toward finding a cure and alleviating the side affects that spinal cord injury patients experience," said Floyd.

Senator Keahey said, "I am honored to bring the TJ Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Program to the forefront of Alabama's medical research innovative efforts." He added, "This is cutting edge research and something I feel Alabama will benefit from having on hand."

The initial method of funding for this research program was to impose a small fine on reckless drivers through Senator Keahey's bill SB338, the proceeds going to the Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund. This approach was to mimic that of California's  "Roman Reed Law" which has made a significant impact on SCI research in America, and across the world.

However, because this research impacts more than the field of medicine, Senator Keahey received bipartisan support to embed $400,000 as a line-item in the ETF (Education Trust Fund) budget for the T.J. Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Program. "Having the support of both Democrats and Republicans was a confirmation of how important this initiative is to our state. Not only will this research advance our knowledge of the spinal cord, it will also support post doctoral research and encourage the best and brightest young scientists to the field of spinal cord injury research, right here in the great state of Alabama."

Spinal Cord Injury Facts:
  • It is estimated that the annual incidence of spinal cord injury (SCI) is approximately 40 cases per million population in the U. S. or approximately 12,000 new cases each year.
  • The number of people in the United States who have SCI has been estimated to be approximately 265,000 persons.
  • Since 2005, motor vehicle crashes account for 40.4% of reported SCI cases.
For more SCI Facts, please visit the 0 Comments on It's Official: Funding for the TJ Atchison Spinal Cord Injury Research Program has passed in Alabama! as of 5/17/2012 12:15:00 PM
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3. Rally Time for Roman!

It's rally time, friends! 
Roman Reed has been instrumental in the formation of SB338 in Alabama – the T.J. Atchison SPINAL CORD INJURY RESEARCH ACT. “TJ’s Law” was filed into legislation by Senator Marc Keahey on February 16, 2012 with funding to be allocated via the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act has made a significant impact on SCI research in America, and across the world. As a witness to this devastating injury, I cannot stress how important the passing of AB1657 is for the future of therapeutic research discoveries in paralysis. “Roman’s Law” must be supported, so please join in support by cutting & pasting the letter below and send ASAP to Assembly Member Fuentes. 

We need your letters of support to pass AB 1657. Please write for paralysis cure!

Felipe Fuentes - Chair Democrat-39 (916) 319-2039  Assemblymember.Fuentes@assembly.ca.gov

Cc: jeff.barbosa@asm.ca.gov.  

 (Sample letter can be cut & pasted)

Dear Chair Felipe Fuentes,

I, ...... ........, strongly support California AB 1657, a one dollar surcharge on all moving traffic violations to fund the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act.

AB 1657 provides annual funding for research of spinal cord injury and related ALS, Alzheimer's, Parkinsons', SMA and related neurological conditions to be able to one day realize the dream of paralysis cure.

Supported by UC, CIRM, Bob Klein, Irv Weissman, Paul Berg, Craig Newmark, Stem Cells Inc., CA Stem Cell Inc. Hans Keirstead, California Healthcare Institute, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Art Torres, Duane Roth, Stu Gordon, Shinya Yamanaka, and the USC School of Politics among many others!

There is a clear nexis between 46% of all spinal cord injuries and 60% of children's SCI paralysis, (Mayo Clinic), caused by auto accidents and fining reckless drivers.

AB 1657 creates jobs, brings money into our State and enables the research that is the hope for paralysis cure.

AB 1657 Ensures CA's leadership in Biotechnology. Roman's Law gives CA Scientists the seed money to Prove in principal and establish data to leverage the huge funding sources of NIH, CIRM, etc.

Fiscally Responsible: No State funds. Creates and keeps Whi

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