Mary Vaccaro of Miami Beach, Florida was recently awarded a $5,000 scholarship to put toward a new RT FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) bike. FES bikes enable muscles to be exercised even if an individual has lost partial or complete voluntary control of them.
“I have been interested in the FES bike since I was first introduced to it during my inpatient rehab. I was always a workout fanatic, so when I was first injured, I was deeply worried about inactivity and muscle atrophy,” notes Vaccaro. “FES cycling is the only way that I can restore a threshold level of activity below my level of injury and maintain muscle tone and wellness.”
A full-time marketing manager in Ohio, Mary suffered a fall in 2012 that left her a c6/7 quadriplegic. She now resides in Florida, and attends physical therapy three times per week for two hours, utilizing her stander and new FES bike at home to complement the therapy. Mary encourages those with SCI to “stay as physically fit and healthy as you can, and never let the wheelchair define you.”
Mary takes advantage of the temperate Florida weather, and enjoys spending time with her fiancé and frequenting the great restaurants. “I am a passionate cook and miss it greatly. With very little hand function, it’s almost impossible for me to prepare anything, so reading cook books and food magazines has partially filled the cooking void and still keeps me creative and my mind active.”
Mary discovered the Will2Walk Scholarship Program via an internet search for foundations associated with SCI. “The out-of-pocket expense for an FES bike is astounding, especially for someone who is not working,” says Vaccaro. “I am so grateful for the financial help from Will2Walk as I believe this bike can aid with my functional independence and recovery, and attain a quality of life equitable to that of my able-bodied peers.”
The Will2Walk Scholarship & Sponsorship Program is designed to provide funding to individuals and qualified organizations that exemplify how those with spinal cord injuries can live a healthy, active and independent lifestyle. If you or someone you know could benefit from the Will2Walk Scholarship & Sponsorship Program, details can be found at Will2Walk.org.