Will Ambler, president of a local nonprofit organization devoted to spinal cord injury research, has been invited to speak with President Obama’s disability advisor, Kareem Dale, on Jan. 7 at the White House.
“The meeting is scheduled to last approximately one hour and is an exciting opportunity to get the needed recognition and funds for curing spinal cord injury,” Ambler said.
The focus of the meeting involves three topics: the national cost of spinal cord injuries, how Santa Ynez Valley-based SCI Research Advancement can help find solutions, and how the administration can help SCI do that.
In addition to the White House invitation, SCI has launched a fundraising campaign with a Hollywood connection.
With the help of NBC and the staff from the hit television show “The Office,” SCI Research Advancement is holding an Internet raffle. The winner will receive two round trip tickets to Hollywood to visit the set of “ the office,” meet star Steve Carell and the rest of the cast, and enjoy a two-night hotel stay, all for a $1 ticket.
At the White House meeting, a discussion of the cost of spinal cord injury is important and timely as it pertains to the current health care reform debate, Ambler said.
“According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, spinal cord injury costs the U.S. taxpayer 20 billion dollars every year for the care of people who are chronically paralyzed, and the acute cost for spinal cord injury is 5 billion dollars every year, according to the National Institute of Health,” Ambler said.
“This includes costs to private insurance and public costs. Acute care takes place within the first six months and includes hospital and ICU care, initial rehabilitation, relocation, and acclimation to life in a wheelchair.
“There are 1.25 million people living with spinal cord injury in the U.S. The U.S. government spends 100 million (dollars) on cure research. There are 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. The research budget for AIDS is 3 billion dollars. The funding is disproportionate for the population that suffers from spinal cord injury,” Ambler added.
The second point Ambler wants to raise is how SCI Research Advancement might be able to facilitate treatment and start human clinical trials.
“There have been great strides made in laboratory experiments, but to date nothing has translated into curing a human sitting in a wheelchair. We hope to change the lack of applied research with our meeting,” said Ambler.
His third point will be ways the administration can help SCI with these plans.