On February 6th, 2010 at around 11:30am while in South Florida for the Super Bowl, 22 year old Anthony Purcell jumped into Miami Beach waters and never came back up. Growing up in Florida, Anthony knew the beach and waters well. Thinking the water was deeper than it actually was, he dove into a sandbar and broke his neck and bruised his C5 and C6 vertebrae. Thanks to his cousin who pulled him out of the water as well as medical staff who acted quickly, Anthony survived the life threatening accident, but tragically – he was paralyzed.
According to traditional medical prognosis, spinal cord injury victims are normally told their chances of living an independent life are slim to none. Told to start getting comfortable in wheelchairs, Anthony’s mother, Micki, refused to accept this narrow way of thinking and started getting deeper into the world of spinal cord injury rehab. She was disturbed at what she found. While she watched Anthony improve with each day, she discovered that other victims weren’t so fortunate. The more research she did, the more she realized that most suffering from a spinal cord injury don’t have the resources necessary to achieve a successful recovery.
“Literally, we left that hospital not knowing where to go, what to do, what resources [were out there], what our next move would be,” said founder Micki Purcell.
Founded by Anthony’s mother, Micki Purcell, Walking With Anthony was born out of Anthony’s devastating spinal cord injury. Devoted to helping people stand up to their wheelchairs, Micki learned through her experiences with Anthony’s injuries that victims and their families don’t know where to go for help.
Tragically, thousands of people with spinal cord injury are trapped in a wheelchair and every day, medical institutions tell them they will never walk again. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center states there are 1 in 50 people living with a spinal cord injury – with around 17,500 new cases occurring each year. Studies have shown that the average amount for rehabilitation for spinal cord injury is close to $100,000 a year and most insurance companies only provide coverage for an average of 21 days.
Working tirelessly to forever change the recovery outcome of spinal cord injury, Walking With Anthony helps those who suffer get access to therapies that have miraculously helped many people get stronger, and gain independence.
Today, Anthony is stronger than ever. With his new bride by his side, he is healthier and gaining independence back step by step. Driving and even bench pressing 190 lbs, Anthony gets closer and closer to living an independent life – self-sufficient and thriving.
“I don’t really look at the big goals, I concentrate on the smaller goals,” Anthony said. “It’s not the end result it’s the journey… It’s how you make that progress.”
Previously perceived as unchangeable, Walking With Anthony is successfully making an impact in the lives of victims with spinal cord injury:
“Thirty years ago, you would be in rehab for 3-6 months after an injury like Anthony had…Walking With Anthony provides hope.”
“Walking With Anthony gives me a lot of hope to be that role model for the next person.”
“Walking With Anthony was a big part of rehabilitation for me financially, and they’ve taught me things that I’m still working on at the gym today.”
Now, Micki and Anthony wake up each morning with purpose. Driven to help as many spinal cord victims as possible through Walking with Anthony, every penny donated to Walking With Anthony goes directly into the charity’s work with those who are emotionally and financially drained by these traumatic life events.
Tough times don’t last – tough people do. All of the fundraising and research support is part of Walking With Anthony’s larger goal to help as many people as possible with spinal cord injuries to get the rehab they need.
“I’m not going to stop…As long as I can bring in the money, I’m going to maintain the people we’re helping, as long as they’re progressing and as long as they’re working hard. We’re going to be a charity that helps many, many people.”
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