United Spinal Association gathered key affiliated chapter representatives in Orlando, Florida, October 11-13 for its 6th annual Chapter Leadership Meeting to strengthen programs, services and outreach to people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D) nationwide.
“This meeting offers chapter representatives, who are truly exceptional leaders, the opportunity to share their success and learn new ways to reach the diverse population we serve within their respective communities,” said James Weisman, United Spinal’s President and CEO.
United Spinal chapters are self-dependent regional organizations that serve individuals with SCI/D by promoting health and well-being, inclusion and independence, community integration, accessibility, and advocacy.
Many of the chapters are led by individuals who have overcome the challenges of living with SCI/D and are dedicated to helping their peers achieve the same.
During the meeting, chapter leaders and key United Spinal staff covered a multitude of topics, from enhancing outreach and enriching chapter operations to fundraising and collaboration on future initiatives.
“Although our chapters have different programs and initiatives, we all share United Spinal’s mission to ensure people with SCI/D can regain their independence and quality of life. It’s great to come together face to face with other leaders to contribute ideas and resources,” said Jose Hernandez, president of United Spinal’s New York City Chapter.
United Spinal hosted its inaugural chapter leadership meeting in 2012 with 17 chapters operating nationwide. Since then, the organization has expanded to 54 chapters in 34 states that serve wheelchair users and others with SCI/D, disabled veterans, the aging, homebound, caregivers and individuals in rural areas.
“The commitment of our chapters to provide critical resources and support to our members on the local level drives our mission,” added Nick LiBassi, VP of Partnership Expansion and Chapter Leadership Meeting coordinator.
Bert Burns, a paralympian, entrepreneur, and clinician delivered the meeting’s keynote address, discussing the significant role peer support played in his recovery from spinal cord injury.
“Being injured 36 years, I know how important peer involvement is in overcoming SCI/D. United Spinal’s chapter leaders are great role models for the newly injured. It was an honor to be able to tell my story and show how I was helped along the way,” said Burns, who was spinal cord injured at the age of 20 when his vehicle was struck by a drunk driver.
United Spinal also honored two of its chapters for their commitment to make a difference in the lives of individuals affected by SCI/D. Chris Salas and the San Antonio Chapter received the ‘2018 Creativity Award’ for their efforts to find creative ways to connect with chapter members. Debbie Meyers and the North Carolina Chapter received the ‘2018 Connection to the Community Award’ for their ongoing work to improve community engagement.
United Spinal gratefully acknowledges our 2018 Chapter Leadership Meeting sponsors for their support of our chapter leaders in making a positive difference in the lives of thousands of individuals living with disabilities.