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Making Recreation Possible: The Kelly Brush Story

February 05, 2016

Shortly after sustaining a spinal cord injury in a ski-racing accident in 2006, Kelly Brush Davisson realized she had an opportunity to help others.

“I was at Craig Hospital and I was realizing, as my time went on there, I realized there was much I could do,” Kelly said.

Kelly said she experienced a moment many patients do: during a therapeutic recreation session at Craig. “One of the turning points for me was when I got in a handcycle again, and I realized I could be an athlete again,” she said.

She says she wanted to make that experience possible for more people, “Once they’re back out there and being part of the community, and being social it redefines what they think they can do and accomplish otherwise, in terms of employment, and what they can do with family, and relationships, and everything else. I really think it is the start of chaining their whole perspective of what their life is like after spinal cord injury.”

Recreation is an important part of daily life and helps many people after a spinal cord or brain injury adjust to their “new normal.”

“Sport and recreation can help develop confidence, independence and strength—both physical and emotional. At Craig Hospital we often see the barrier to participation is the ability to afford the piece of equipment,” said Tom Carr, Director of Therapeutic Recreation for Craig Hospital.

“It’s not that simple when you have a spinal cord injury. Getting that equipment really makes the difference and really allows you to be active. That equipment is thousands of dollars,” said Kelly.

Adaptive sports equipment, like handcycles or monoskis, is often too expensive for someone facing medical bills after a catastrophic injury. Costs for adaptive equipment typically starts at $3,000.

Shortly after discharge Kelly started the Kelly Brush Foundation to help fund recreation equipment for people with spinal cord injuries.

Recently, Craig Hospital and the Kelly Brush Foundation announced a new partnership to provide much needed scholarship funds to help Craig Hospital graduates with spinal cord injuries continue to lead an active lifestyle. The scholarships will provide funding for adaptive sports and recreational equipment.

“The support of the Kelly Brush Foundation allows Craig hospital to meet the needs for more of our patients and alumni and allows them to participate with their family, friends, and peers in their home communities, which in the end of the day is what normal is,” said Tom Carr.

The “Granting Independence” SCI Adaptive Equipment Scholarship was introduced this year. Craig Hospital and the Kelly Brush Foundation are proud to announce six recipients will receive scholarships for adaptive equipment this October. The total scholarship amount is $10,000.

Craig Hospital also offers an adaptive equipment scholarship for Craig Hospital graduates with traumatic brain injury. All Craig Hospital graduates interested in incorporating sports and recreation into their daily lives are encouraged to apply.

“The collaboration with Craig Hospital and the Kelly Brush Foundation I think truly does Redefine Possible. It takes this person who is out of rehab, either shortly or for a longer time, and shows them that they can not only get back into adaptive sports and try sports every once in a while. But they can get back in them and do them all the time. They can redefine what is possible for them,” said Kelly.