Colby's first steps and beyond!

My First Steps Since Becoming Paralyzed 19 Years Ago!!!

My name is Colby Smith and for those who don’t know about my journey and/or circumstances, let me take a moment to provide a brief background. At the age of 17 I was involved in an car accident, which resulted in a fractured neck causing a spinal cord injury & paralysis from the shoulders down. Fast forward 19 years, at the age of 36, I’ve received my Masters degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling & my official Certificate of Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. I can understand how a life of 19 years with paralysis may be perceived as a long journey, but the truth is in some ways I feel as though my journey is just about to take off!

Now after 5 years of being on the waiting list for the ABLE program at the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Golden Valley, MN I had finally reached the top of the waiting list, & on Thursday, July 13, I had my initial intake assessment. It was at this very moment when I (with assistance) took my first steps in 19 years!!!

I must say that I felt amazing both mentally & physically! Naturally, it came with a few days of expected soreness due to being out of shape.

However, despite this amazing accomplishment & my great life outlook I’ve found myself challenged to determine how I’m to achieve my career goals &, more importantly, financial independence without having to compromise my short-term and/or long-term health.

In formulating my list of potential endeavors, I have devised a list of 3 areas I will need to secure if I’m to maximize my likelihood of successfully maintaining my health while also achieving long-term financial independence, which in turn will minimize my reliance on taxpayer funded social programs. The 3 areas I’ll need to attain are (1) invest more in my physical health, (2) invest in a book publisher & public speaking publicist, (3) upgrade wheelchair accessible vehicle to a newer model.

However, I need your help because my long-term out-of-pocket investment (30 yrs.) of maximizing my physical health alone will come to a minimum of at least $1.14 million, because there is no coverage (private nor public) for my prospective participation in the ABLE program!

1.) Investing in my health: The reason I need to invest in the ABLE program is to enhance my long-term physical health because with paralysis it’s challenging to find the means to exercise muscle groups of which I cannot voluntarily move. The benefits I’ll likely see from being involved in the ABLE program are increases in bone density, muscle mass/strength, cardiovascular and respiratory health, diaphragm strength, bodily functions, & energy/stamina. These benefits proactively improve my likelihood of preventing bone fractures, skin ulcers, cardiovascular & respiratory issues, & other potential related medical needs; thus, improving my ability to achieve vocational goals.

Although I’ve secured a 6 month scholarship that will cover 80% of the cost for an arrangement of 2 ½ hours 3x/week. I’m responsible for the 20% as an out-of-pocket expense, which depending on the option I choose, is a cost ranging between $595—1360.20/month.

After my 6 month scholarship (Aug.-Jan.) with 80% coverage expires the specific breakdown of my out-of-pocket expenses is listed as follows: no treadmill plan: $45,000/yr. and treadmill included plan: (+) $3,000/yr. Yearly total could come to approximately $48,000.

2.) Invest in a wheelchair accessible vehicle: I have been using the same wheelchair accessible van for the past 19 years & one could say I’m using it until the wheels fall off. It’s so old that replacement parts for the wheelchair lift are no longer available. I’m going to need a newer vehicle at some point if I’m going to pursue public speaking engagements on the side of a career as a vocational counselor. The estimate for this investment $27,500.

In summary, my 1st goal is to secure funds needed for me to be able to participate in the ABLE program, which again comes to $48,000/year. My 2nd goal is to obtain the funds for a newer wheelchair accessible vehicle will be approximately $27,500.

If you can help in any way I’d really appreciate it & if you know anyone else who may be interested in contributing please feel free to share. Every little bit counts & my hope is to pay it forward by spreading awareness & all the knowledge I’ve gained along my journey in the form of books, signature merchandise, and public speaking engagements.

In short, life isn’t about having or regaining the ability to walk. Life is about mastering the art of transforming a disadvantage into an advantage!

**Disclaimer: My preference would be for potential donors to consider sending me a check directly as payable to "Colby Smith Irrevocable Supplemental Needs Trust.
Send to:
Colby Smith
565 Juergens Rd. SW.
Hutchinson, MN

Thank You in advance!

PS, here's a 5-6 min. introductory video of the ABLE program to give one an idea of the kinds of exercise I will be doing at one time or another during my participation in the ABLE program.

**Family and friends of Colby Smith are raising money to pay for uninsured medical expenses associated with Catastrophic Injury.


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Colby J. Smith 
Minneapolis, MN
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