Get ready to be inspired. Imagine being 30 years old and suddenly left without the ability to move anything below your chest due to a gymnastics spinal cord injury. Now fast forward three years to that same person who is rocking Crossfit WODs. This guy is Stan Yoo, a doctor who used to work with my mom. Read more about Stan’s story below.
Whatever athletics you pursue - this will make you want to do a little more.
I know this is all very last minute, but this month I have been inspired by a number of friends, relatives and acquaintances who have competed in athletic events from CrossFit and Ironman competitions, to marathons and 5k runs. Many have done so to raise money for a specific cause, and their collective dedication to their sports and their causes have inspired me to embrace my own. This Sunday, November 13th, I have therefore decided to do an impromptu fundraiser in order to raise money for spinal cord injury (SCI) research.
As many of you already know, I became spinal cord injured from a gymnastics accident. I spent my 30th birthday in bed being fed pizza and birthday cake by my family and friends because I was initially unable to use my hands or move anything below the level of my chest. Over time, I was incredibly fortunate to have made enough functional gains so that I am not only once again able to live and work independently, but also able to enjoy a level of fitness that even some able-bodied individuals do not. I would like to believe and hope that I will continue to make gains; however, even with all that I can now do, there isn’t a moment in my day when I don’t yearn for advancements in the treatment of SCI and ultimately a cure. I as well as many others, most with far more serious disabilities than I, face the reality that without these advances, our potential for recovery is limited.
A little more than a year and a half ago I started CrossFit. It is now what I do almost exclusively for fitness, and it is something I simply enjoy doing. Today, November 8, 2011 marks the three year anniversary of the day I became spinal cord injured. 5 days from now, on Nov 13th, I plan to celebrate my 33rd birthday doing a CF workout to be determined at the discretion of my coaches both in remembrance of the injury I sustained and in appreciation of all the function I have regained. I’ll record and post the workout on Facebook mostly as a thank you and to show all of you what your positive thoughts and support have helped me accomplish over the past three years, but I also do this in the strong hopes that it will encourage you to contribute to the advancement of SCI treatments and the search for a cure.
My goal in the short time between posting this and doing the workout is to raise at least $1000 for Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (www.christopherreeve.org). Any contribution would be greatly appreciated. And If your political/ethical/religious beliefs contradict some of the research (e.g. stem cell) that this particular foundation may promote, then I urge you to please contribute to another charity of your choice. There are so many great fundraisers going on right now, all in the efforts to find a cure for a host of different diseases. The common thread in these diseases is that they all have functional implications that significantly affect quality of life. As someone who believes in the power of activity so much that I became a physician in the field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and as a patient who momentarily lost my own functional independence due to my injury, I can’t express strongly enough what a gift it is to be able to be on your own two feet, be able to participate in the activities you love and be able to interact with the world. The advances that are made with your contributions will be absolutely invaluable to those who do benefit from them.
Thank you so much for reading though this, and contributing if you do. And on November 13th I hope that you’ll join me in doing something active! Having an able body truly is a gift that shouldn’t be squandered!
- Stan Yoo
PS - For those of you who don’t know what CrossFit is, simply put it’s a form of exercise that focuses more on functional movements than the muscle isolation strength building exercises that are still the mainstay of many conventional gym routines. While I do CrossFit for a number of different reasons, I am not writing to promote it over any other type of exercise or say that it is right for everyone. It’s just something that I enjoy doing and feel works for me.