SPINAL CORD FELLOWSHIP
In 1999, the President of the Spinal Cord Society Australia (now StepAhead Australia), Dr George Owen, arranged to speak at a V3 Lions Club meeting looking merely for financial support for his organisation.
He spoke of the disturbing statistics that put 1 Australian a day into a wheelchair suffering from either paraplegia or quadriplegia. Most of these unfortunate people are young and suffer their injuries from swimming hole accidents, sporting injuries and car crashes.
Their injuries currently confine them to a life of pain and constant dependence on others to allow them to enjoy the basics of life … in most Third World countries this type of injury usually results in death.
The cost to the Australian community is well over $1billion per year spread through the whole gamut of support from medical treatment to day to day assistance with the task of simply living.
Our District adopted the Fellowship as an activity that year and the Spinal Cord Fellowship was born in 2000 when Australian Lions adopted the Fellowship as a Category C project at the Perth Convention. The committee then set about making a serious attempt at raising funds and providing information to the more than 1400 Lions and Lioness clubs in Australia.
The growing enthusiasm of our Lions family for the project saw it become a major Australian project at the Hobart Convention (Category B) in 2003.
An Australian Lions Category B Project Managed by District 201V3 and Administered by the Lions Club of Wellington-Latrobe Inc., the Object of the Project is “To support Step Ahead Australia in funding Australian scientists or clinicians to study the latest techniques of spinal cord injury both within Australia and the USA to the intent that the knowledge and experience to gained shall be made available to the Australian public. The funding will subsidise salaries and expenses including appropriate equipment deemed necessary to assist the research of the Fellowship holders”.
The enthusiastic support of the Lions of Australia has allowed the 3 Fellowship holders to break new ground in the use of autologous (your own) stem cells, and the day is fast approaching when chronic spinal cord injury sufferers will be able to walk again.