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Meet Michael Solano: A Craig Story

What does independence mean to you?

I have two Independence Days: July 4th and April 13th. As a proud American, veteran and forever civil servant, July 4th stirs strong emotions for me. But, April 13th was the day that I felt, for the first time, I could live independently following my spinal cord injury. And for that, I live in gratitude for my supportive and loving family and to the Craig Hospital Foundation.

On July 5th, 2013, I was enjoying Independence Day weekend in Loveland, CO. We were camping, hiking and off-roading in ATVs. My wife Miriam and I went for an ATV ride. I hit a boulder and the ATV flipped and landed on my chest, instantly injuring my spinal cord. I was air-lifted to a nearby hospital and later transferred to Craig Hospital for rehabilitation.

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While at Craig Hospital, I fought daily to reclaim the independence to be the kind of father, spouse, colleague and citizen I want to be. I pushed myself, creating goals to lift more, increase my mobility and learn skills that would propel me toward self-sufficiency. My family was there encouraging me every step of the way. Despite my hard work during the day, I often lay awake at night worrying about how I could provide for my family and be a good parent and husband. I wondered how I would navigate my home during an emergency, connect with my kids and be able to care for myself so that I could care for others. My Clinical Care Manager (CCM), Lesley, assured me that I should focus on my rehabilitation and that she would reach out to the Craig Hospital Foundation to assist in other areas.

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The Patient Assistance and Project EQL Funds

I am so thankful to Craig Hospital Foundation and its donors who contribute toward Patient Assistance and Project EQL (Equipment for Quality Living) for answering these obstacles with their generosity. When our family’s financial resources and insurance coverage were depleted, these funds covered the gap between what I needed to maximize my independence and what I could afford. The best measure of this assistance is not the amount of money spent, but what these gifts made possible in my life and my family’s life:

A shower chair and bathroom remodel enables self-care, giving me my dignity.

Home modifications, which included hardwood floors and wider doorways, allow me to navigate my home during an emergency and fully engage with my kids – from play to discipline.

An accessible hotel room during the remodel allowed me to connect with my children following my spinal cord injury.

The lift installed in my garage enables me to enter and exit my home independently and with ease, to keep my family safe and access my bike so that I can go on rides and run with my son.

Help with purchasing an adaptive family vehicle allows me to take my son to wrestling and football practice and my daughter to gymnastics, go on dates with my wife, run errands and participate in my community.

It takes a community of donors to make sure these patient assistance resources are available to every Craig Hospital patient who has financial need. In July, we celebrate the birth of our great nation. I urge you to make a contribution today that will make possible other independence days. Your gift to Project EQL will help ensure patients at Craig Hospital with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries are able to get the basic adaptive equipment that will enhance their independence, dignity and life quality, regardless of their financial means. The Autrey Foundation, plus another anonymous donor, are challenging you to give back with a $20,000 match! So, your donation will be doubled! I hope that you choose to support patients like me in achieving independence.

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