New Year’s Update from the Michael-Ryan Pattison Foundation

564869_10150929026929229_1212781605_nBy Michael-Ryan

Hello once again! I know it’s been a while since I’ve last written, but I guess there is no better time to start than at the beginning of a new year. I hope all of you had a blessed holiday season and a safe and happy welcoming of 2013.

The number thirteen has always held a lot of positive significance in my life. With that being said, our hope and plan as organization is to have a healing center, whether large or small, opening in 2013. We are putting some final touches on a business plan and once again actively seeking a new development director for the foundation; hopefully he or she will be the individual needed to take the final steps in helping the multitudes of people living with devastating injuries.

Like many things in life, you get what you pay for, and we as an organization have no more time to drag our feet; we are committed to hiring all of the right personnel in this New Year who will be essential to opening doors to a facility. We have been talking and talking and talking for years now about the potential positive impact a facility will have on the lives of people living with paralysis, and it is now time to start walking. All of your support and continued engagement has helped the Michael-Ryan Pattison Foundation get to this point, and I pray that your faith in this organization will be proven in the months to come. Your support and input is needed now more than ever!

There are so many injured individuals out there that contact me regularly who are still alive, but have lost the passion in life to keep living, or the essence of hope. They are merely going through life’s motions, and there is nothing more detrimental to a person’s spirit. Whether or not you’re a person who practices “New Year’s resolutions,” I would ask that this year you commit to this: at the end of the day be confident that you did something to better the life of at least one individual you have encountered. Often these small gestures can make the largest impact on the world around you.

Well this is a pretty short update, but I hope it is enough to keep you all engaged and excited about where we are headed this year. The daily work of our employees, volunteers, and board members is all focused on helping to bring hope to those who need it the most. Many of you have heard of a man named Eric LeGrand, who suffered a spinal cord injury playing football at Rutgers University. In his book he says, “You can live several days without food, three days without water, but not a second without hope.” And he is very right in many ways.

 The gratitude I have for all your support over the years is second to none, and knowing that our organization will continue have it in the year to come is very reassuring.

Wishing you all the best in your upcoming endeavors!

God bless,



Andy Karuza: Best Man Seattle

By Stephanie Travers

This week I had the opportunity to interview Andy Karuza, a local leader in social media marketing and CEO of He is currently running for Best Man Seattle, where he is representing the Michael-Ryan Pattison Foundation as his selected charity cause. I will let him tell you a little bit more about the competition, as well as what drives him to give back in the midst of his busy schedule.

First of all, tell our readers about the Best Man competition and how you got involved:

The Best Man competition is a contest put on by Dlist Magazine and Spyonvegas that promotes local men and their favorite charities. The idea is about turning a fun contest into something that benefits a greater good, and that’s why I’m involved.

There are a lot of deserving charitable causes out there. With that in mind, what made you decide to represent the Michael-Ryan Pattison Foundation in the competition, and what does the work we do mean to you in your personal life?

Michael-Ryan Pattison’s fight to increase awareness for paralysis is very inspiring, and something he and the organization work so hard on every year. The MRPF isn’t the largest foundation, but it’s something the entire community can get behind. Michael-Ryan Pattison himself is actively involved in this campaign and it creates a level of personification behind the organization that anybody can connect with. I myself am a very active person and I know this ability is something that people take for granted every single day.

Rumor has it that you are a pretty busy guy, with several professional ventures and an active social life. How do you make time within that schedule to give back to the community, and what drives you to get involved with charitable causes?

The best thing I can do is include charitable causes into what I’m already doing. Two things I’m good at are marketing and socializing, therefore I like to include charity into that. For instance, I like to donate my agency to do the marketing for charity events or even put together events for charity. By doing this, I’ve had the honor of working with many different groups over the past couple of years.

In the past few years, the Michael-Ryan Pattison Foundation has been creating and nurturing our relationship with the young professional community in the area. We believe that this community has a lot to bring to the table when it comes to our long-term development, and their generosity and dedication to our cause has been refreshing and encouraging for us as a foundation. How would you describe the young professional community in the Seattle area, and what do you think drives them to work so hard yet give so much back?

I think the younger generations really understand and appreciate charity. While they may not have a lot to give monetarily now, they want to be involved and will become a long-term value to the organization.  Today we live in a world of more transparency and evolving values that have put charity towards the center of the universe. For instance, social media and the web connect us to people’s stories across the world. There isn’t a day that goes by where a heartfelt story doesn’t pass around the web demonstrating the importance of valuing people and supporting those in need. I’m personally proud to be a part of this community; there are a lot of strong young leaders in this city.

The philosophy behind this blog and the rehabilitation we are working towards bringing to the Northwest for those living with spinal cord injuries is ‘Mind, Body, Spirit.’ What does this phrase mean to you in your own life?

The mind and spirit are the most powerful thing we have and together they can move mountains. This might sound a little crazy, but I believe a strong mind and spirit can heal a body.


You can vote for Andy Karuza in the Best Man competition by visiting the link below. You will need to create an account to vote, but each vote will contribute 10 cents towards the Michael-Ryan Pattison Foundation up to $1000 if Andy wins in his category. Voting closes tomorrow night (10/23) at midnight, and you can vote once every two hours.

Vote for Andy Karuza for Best Man Seattle


Andy Karuza is the Chief Executive Officer at and the principal at The Agency LLC, a social marketing consulting firm. He is a leader in the social media marketing and events community with experience launching startup companies and helping fortune 500 companies navigate a social and mobile-based consumer world. He has continued highly publicized work on social media as a core focus while him and his exceptional team produces their first product platform,

Outside of his professional life, Andy spends a considerable amount of time applying his social media finesse to helping charity organizations raise money and organizing various networking and social activities for the Seattle area. Andy was recently recognized as one of the most influential men in Seattle. As a young leader, Andy is very excited to work with other leaders across the world. He says “We all have much to learn from each other, and together as better leaders, we can make a greater impact on this world.”


Donor Spotlight: Evelyn Padrino-Santamarina

By Evelyn Padrino-Santamarina

The reason I give to the Michael-Ryan Pattison Foundation is simple: it provides me with the hope needed to face the most challenging situation I have lived so far: the paralysis of a loved one.

When we received the phone call at 5:00 am that my step-son had been in a car accident and someone needed to be there to “make decisions,” we did not know what we were facing. The sorrow and stress our family lived the following hours, days, weeks and months can only be understood by those that have gone through something similar. My son had a golf scholarship in a NCAA Division Two College in North Carolina. He was in his junior year. He was a passenger in the car where the driver fell asleep.  Literally, overnight his life took a 180 degree turn.


Evelyn and her family before her son’s accident


It is hard to believe, but my step-son got caught in the statistics: male, between 18 and 32 years old, in a car accident. Like him, 8,500 other young males will be paralyzed every year in this country. That is 23 per day! And the emergency treatment and ICU period is just the beginning of a long and hard journey. What makes it especially hard is that very little is known about spinal cord Injury treatment and recovery: therefore, there is little hope for the future of the paralyzed individual. However, thanks to great and caring friends, we got in touch with Michael-Ryan, a wonderful example of energy, positivism, and hope for those living with paralysis.

What the MRPF is trying to accomplish motivates me to help them and support them. As a business person, I see there is a business opportunity to provide a Healing Center where people living with paralysis can exercise, recover, relax, meet new people, and simply have a better life. As a mom of a young paralyzed male, it would be a fantastic opportunity for my son to leverage this center and not only work towards his recovery, but also help others and drive awareness in the community. Today, we have to travel to the East Coast for my son to receive that kind of therapy and care.

In October 2012, I decided to support the Giving Campaign at Microsoft for my team in the US Marketing organization. It is the 30th anniversary for such activity for the company, and we will celebrate over $1B that Microsoft and its employees have given to multiple NFP organizations across the country.  Microsoft has one of the best corporate matching programs in the US, and maybe in the world. I am very proud to work for a company that not only gives a lot to the community through technology, but that also supports its employees giving and philanthropic interests. All the time I may invest working at the MRPF will be tracked and matched by Microsoft at $17/hour. All the cash donations I make over $25 will be match at 100%. Even product donations I make to the MRPF will be matched with cash by Microsoft.

During the Giving Campaign at Microsoft, giving is contagious. It is typical to see multiple announcements and fun activities across the Redmond campus inviting people to participate. Poker tournaments, sports clinics, drawings, 5k run-walk, among others are some of the most common. People get very enthusiastic about their own giving activities and many openly shared why they give and why they care. The common reason for this is because we are so fortunate and so blessed to have all we have, that it becomes inevitable to think about helping others, and each person will pick ‘where’ and ‘how’ those less fortunate that deserve their help.

This year at the Giving Campaign, as one of its leaders, I have decided to bring the Michael-Ryan Pattison Foundation to this wonderful and caring environment. The foundation is small; it is still in its infancy, and it needs some hand- holding and extra support. I am hoping to increase awareness for the Michael-Ryan Pattison Foundation and the challenges of living with paralysis across the Microsoft community to help it deliver on its mission.


Evelyn Padrino-Santamarina is a Mechanical Engineer with a passion for marketing. After earning, her MBA from University of Illinois, Evelyn worked in several industries –telecom, mass products, and IT–performing different marketing roles. Most recently, she has been working at Microsoft for the last 11 years.

Always aiming to collaborate and support others, Evelyn has been an active member of several diversity & inclusion activities at her corporate environment and outside. She has been leading the ‘Hispanic Community’ at Microsoft US for the last 3 years and continuously looks for ways to drive equality and opportunity for all in the workspace. She is a Director at the Latino Community Fund of Washington, and an active member of her community and school for her kids.

Evelyn is a native Venezuelan, and has enjoyed living in the Pacific Northwest for the past 5 years with her husband Oscar and 4 children. She enjoys cooking, reading, skiing, dancing and traveling, but not all at the same time!


MRPF “A Cure is Coming” Dinner and Auction this Saturday!

By Michael-Ryan Pattison

For those of you who don’t know, it is the Tuesday leading up to our 8th Annual “A Cure is Coming” Dinner and Auction fundraiser for the Michael Ryan Pattison Foundation. This is always a stressful time for me because of the work I know it takes to pull off such a big event. Even after seven years of successful auctions, I still feel the same nervous feelings as the date approaches. I can’t speak personally for the efforts of the first event, because that fundraiser was held on my behalf shortly after my injury in 2005 while I was still in the hospital. However, I know my family and friends worked hard to pull together for me in my time of need, and that year was that start of something bigger than I could have ever imagined at the time.

Every year has its different challenges to ensure this event turns out to be a success. For me it’s a time of many restless nights, over-analysis, and extra anxiety; sometimes these feelings make me ask myself if I still have the strength to continue on with this foundation. In those moments, I think back and remember what receiving the immense amount of support from the first auction meant to my family and me after all we had endured. The first auction planted a seed in me, and that is why I continue to persevere. This is what gives me strength: I understand what it means to truly suffer through the struggles that come along with such a devastating accident, and without the love and help I’ve had throughout this journey, it’s safe to say I would’ve never made it this far. I wake up each day with a mission to spread that support to those who wouldn’t otherwise have it.

That being said, it is important as ever to have the support of all of you this Saturday so that we can continue to give much needed help to those individuals and families struggling to find their way in a new life. All money raised over the last seven years– aside from the first fundraiser that was put on to help cover my own medical expenses—has and will continue to go towards helping us accomplish our goal of building a rehabilitation center so we will have the best chance to influence as many lives as possible in a positive way for those individuals out there who truly need it.

It’s easy to get caught up in our own stresses of life; until we step back and put those stresses into perspective, it is hard to  help those who need it. In no way am I undermining the fact that many of us have difficult things we deal with on a day-to-day basis, but in many ways they cannot compare to the daily obstacles someone living with a paralyzing injury must overcome. I am fortunate to have had all of you around me to create a life full of security and happiness. Together we can create that for others as well.

Thank you for all the support you have dedicated to this foundation that has allowed us to help others in whatever way we can. We are closer than ever to reaching our goal, and as time goes on, the need to reach the finish line only increases. I look forward to seeing all of you this weekend, and hopefully you’ll be encouraged and inspired by what you see and hear.

Take care and God bless,


For more information on this event and to purchase tickets, follow the link below:

Auction Info and Tickets


Cultivating the Mind: Employment and Disability

By Stephanie Travers

One of the major issues faced by the suddenly disabled is employment. While it makes no sense for an individual with ample training and all of the same skills they had pre-injury to leave the work force, the task of returning to work or finding a new job or career path that would be better suited to such a drastic change in lifestyle can be daunting. When this is compounded with the health issues and need for intensive rehabilitation that are encountered early on in an injury, getting back to work can become much more difficult than putting your resume out there.

The past four years have been a trying time for just about everyone when it comes to employment. While many groups have been hit hard, the disabled are currently experiencing an unemployment rate of 16%, which is twice the national average. Another set of numbers, published by the Christian Science Monitor, state that as of June of this year, only 32% of the disabled population is working, while 80% desires to be. With companies scaling back, and the job market becoming increasingly competitive, it is more important than ever to make sure that people with disabilities have employment opportunities that not only provide self-worth and income, but also help stimulate the economy and bring new ideas and perspectives to the collective table.

In his blog, The Myth of Walking, Allen Rucker points out that we live in a world and market that is increasingly driven by brain power; physical brawn and ability is quickly becoming a relic of the past in the professional world. An interesting question to ask then is whether this will level the playing field between the physically disabled and the able-bodied when it comes to work, or will people’s fears and built-in uneasiness around disabilities continue to impede progress?

An important aspect of the Healing Center’s holistic approach to rehabilitation will be its Technology Center. We believe that one of the first hurdles towards independence–once the body is on its way to recovery–is having access to necessary assistive technology that can provide self-sufficiency both personally and professionally. Three decades of development in assistive technology has led to the current state of continuous-speech recognition solutions which were not available as recently as three or four years ago, and these technologies will just continue to improve. The Michael-Ryan Pattison Foundation is committed to creating an environment where people will be empowered to use their natural skills and abilities to reenter the work force and find the stability and independence that all individuals wish for.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It is a month set aside to consider the ways in which disabled individuals contribute to our country, and to speak out about the need for employment opportunities for everyone. On our blog in the past few months, we have featured several dynamic, motivated, successful individuals with active careers and lifestyles; these posts aren’t simply meant to inspire, but to demonstrate that regardless of their injuries, people living with SCIs and other forms of paralysis are fully capable of living exceptional lives. It is our mission as a foundation to make sure that every person with an injury will have access to the therapies, resources, and technology that will provide them with the building blocks to make that kind of life a reality. Please join us in recognizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month this October!

“People with disabilities must be woven into our work culture. Already, we benefit from the incredible array of talent they bring to our workplaces. But we must raise the bar, we must create the inexorable expectation that people with disabilities will contribute in every way to our economic successes. Only by nurturing this expectation and providing people with disabilities with unlimited employment opportunities, can we all benefit from their talents.” 

-Kathy Martinez, Department of Labor for Disability Employment Policy

Citation: Disabled World News (2009-08-22) – Disability Employment Awareness Month heightens awareness while recognizing contributions of Americans with disabilities to our workforce and society:


Donor Spotlight: Lando’s Custom Choppers

As the auction draws near, we would like to take the opportunity to spotlight some of our generous donors whose contributions make this event a success year after year. This week we interviewed Landon Jensen, the owner of Lando’s Custom Choppers to get the story behind the chopper he donated for this year’s event.

1. First off, tell me how you met M.R:

I know MR from rival junior high sports like basketball and football. Timber Crest Jr. High vs. Leota Jr. high! I believe Leota NEVER beat Timber Crest thanks to MR.

 2. You are donating a beautiful chopper for our auction on October 6th; tell me about that bike:  

The bike was built from a 2002 Buell X1 Harley Motorcycle. I had a custom frame for that engine built by TWISTED CHOPPERS. From the Buell motorcycle I only used the engine, forks, and wheels. Other than that, the bike is custom. I did all of the fabrication in-house at Landos Custom Choppers. Some of the features include:

  • Bars with a 15-inch rise.
  • Rear fender integrated tail-lights and blinkers.
  • 20-inch straight pipes for exhaust wrapped in White fiberglass to keep it classy
  • Finished off with the paint job done By SIK WERKS in the U-District.
  3. I imagine you have spent a lot of time building this machine. Any cool stories to share about that? 

Cool story of the build was THE BUILD. There is a journey in every bike I build. I start with a vision of what I want, and I tried to incorporate MR’s vision into this bike as well. Although I know he did have a little different idea at the start with this bike, my creative vision came through when I had to do all the fabrication.

 4. A motorcycle is a pretty wonderful donation, both time- and value-wise. What motivated you to donate? How does our cause speak to you? 

What motivated me to build this bike was not only MR, but also another friend of mine and friend of the Woodinville High School class of 2003, Tyler Schrenk. I don’t know too many people that have two friends from the same class in high school that are going through the hardest thing anyone could ever be put through. I wanted to use my abilities to build a motorcycle so MR could use his ability to build a healing center.

 5. Our blog title is Mind, Body, Spirit. What does that mean to you in your daily life, and how would you relate it back to our foundation?   

Your blog MIND , BODY , SPIRIT means to me:

MIND: MR’s Vision

BODY: The Foundation

SPIRIT: The emotional uplifting persona that MR’s Spirit gives me to live life to its fullest.


Check out our generous donor, Lando’s Custom Choppers at :




Personality Profile: Christiaan “Otter” Bailey

Interview by Stephanie Travers

Christiaan “Otter” Bailey is an American professional surfer, known for his experience as a surf safari guide and skill as a big wave surfer and skateboarder. Bailey grew up in the Santa Cruz, California area and excelled as a semi-pro surfer and skateboarder. On July 23, 2006, during the filming of a skateboarding video, Bailey crashed on his skateboard, fracturing several vertebrae in his back (L3,L4,S3), damaging his spinal cord in the process, which left him paralyzed from the waist down as a result.

 Bailey was the first paralyzed person to win the WSA National Championships (Trestles 2009), as well as the first paralyzed person to surf “Mavericks” (Half Moon Bay, California). Bailey is currently one of only two professional “chairskaters”, and currently remains the “only” paralyzed professional big wave surfer in the world.


I came across your name when someone ‘shared’ a picture of you on Facebook dropping in on a seriously steep vert at the Nike US Open in Huntington Beach. Needless to say the picture made an impression. When you roll up to an edge like that, what goes through your mind?

Well to be honest, in a drop like that with so much vert, you think of it more in terms of a mathematical equation than anything else. It was a 10ft “volcano” drop with 3ft of vert and pool coping. The tricky part there is the pool coping, because unlike your standard vert drop, you have to roll up and over the overhang. Basically it was more like 6ft before my wheels actually touched down on the transition, so it’s essential you angle your wheels properly, otherwise you’ll face plant. A SUPER sketchy drop but A LOT of fun!!!

Bailey dropping in.

You were injured six years ago, but obviously continue to live a very active lifestyle with your surfing and skating. Was there ever a moment when you thought you wouldn’t be able to continue doing the things you love?

 No, not really. From the get go, I’ve always been driven to adapt and overcome my injury so that I could pursue what I love doing. That’s been the greatest form of rehab for me–working with my sponsors to push the limits of adaptive surf and skate technology. The way I see it, it’s critical a person continue to pursue their passions in life and push the limits of their abilities, otherwise what’s the point?

What achievement are you most proud of and why?

Oh, I don’t know. There are quite a few moments that come to mind. Um, I would probably say surfing Mavericks again would probably rank pretty high up there, just because the task was so monumental and took so much training and equipment R&D (research and development) in order to achieve. That was an incredibly special moment for me!

Christiaan sharing a wave with Kelly Slater

Our foundation is committed to bringing a rehabilitation center to the Northwest that will specialize in activity-based therapies—we believe in getting people out of their chairs to work out and regain mobility. What have your rehab experiences been like, and what do you do on a daily basis to keep in shape?

My experiences haven’t all been good. Every spinal cord injury is different; by in large, I’ve seen many incomplete quads get back to standing/walking with a hardcore training and rehab regiment. But for paras that number drops through the floor. I’d say from what I’ve seen, maybe 2 in 10 paras ever escape the chair in everyday life. I think it is important for rehab facilities to be honest with their therapies, and not give false hope, because I have seen that take people to very dark places. There is so much more to rehab than walking again. I have found through experience that rehab, REAL rehab, is far more a mental perspective then a physical one.  If you have the drive and focus to pursue what you love in life, what you’re passionate about, no matter the challenge or amount of adaptation, then you will come out WAY ahead in the end!!!

Modify your thinking toward your disability and visualize accomplishing your goals. I was able to accomplish what I have because I occupied all of my spare time with goals that allowed me to do what I love without walking or standing. The quicker you accept the cards life has dealt you and your “disability”, the quicker you can adapt, overcome, and embrace your abilities!

As far as activities go, I surf every day, chairskate, sail, scuba, and skydive. I also really enjoy yoga in the mornings. A good stretching regiment is perhaps the best thing you can do for your body; I spend 30 minutes in bed every morning stretching and it helps quell most if not all of my muscle tightness, spasms and nerve pain for the whole day.

What are your biggest daily obstacles post-injury?

Muscle tension and spasms are always a fairly big issue for me in the mornings. However I’ve found adhering to a good morning yoga routine in bed helps a great deal!  Bladder issues can also be pretty problematic at times, but that is something that has to be addressed on an individual level as it applies to the level of injury and can’t really be generalized.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges the SCI community faces?

The social stigma that post-injury, people in chairs should aspire to walk again in order to be “normal” in society’s eyes; personally, I’m happy in my chair. Why should I be standing next to someone upright in order to be considered worthy of their approval?   I think in recent years, we’ve come a long way in regards to changing the general public’s perception of disabilities and what we’re capable of accomplishing, but overall there’s still a long way to go in the media before these kinds of stigmas become socially taboo.

You are involved with several different nonprofits and foundation; tell me a little bit about the work you are committed to, and how people can find out more about it. 

In 2007 I met someone who would play a pivotal role in my life, and over the past five years, my business partner Frank Bauer and I have gone on to create the first  and only international, adaptive surf adventure program in the world called Ocean Healing Group. We’re based in Costa Rica and provide all inclusive adaptive sports adventures for kids age 7-17 and their parents. The program is largely free of costs to its participants and lasts between 7-10 days. In that time we engage the kids in activities ranging from adaptive surfing & snorkeling, to zip lining over the jungle, quad nature tours, and beach horseback riding! All the while, the parents get to relax and have a real vacation! It’s an absolute blast for us to be able to share out passion and give back in this way and it is one of the most spiritually fulfilling things I’ve done post injury!

Our blog title and rehabilitation philosophy is “Mind, Body, Spirit.” What does that mean to you in your own personal life and recovery process?

  I’d prefer to look at it in the order of Spirit, Mind, Body.  If you have the Spirit to pursue what you love no matter the cost and train your Mind to focus on your goals, you can triumph over any challenge the Body can throw at you…






A Cure is Coming Auction Update from Michael-Ryan

In light of the 8th Annual A Cure is Coming Dinner and Auction fundraiser, I would like to take a moment to thank all of our sponsors that are making this event possible and highlight some of the great auction items that have been so kindly donated from outstanding individuals and companies not only in the Seattle area, but from across the country. Hopefully this will add some excitement for those of you who have already committed to come support our cause of raising awareness and improving the quality of life of individuals living with paralysis; and possibly give an extra incentive to those of you who have not purchased tickets yet or are still considering whether you will be coming to the event.

2011 auction bidding in action!

We always have a wonderful silent auction, and this year is no different. We have items such as wine packages, an assortment of gift certificates to numerous restaurants, a number of his and hers watches from a handful of different makers, snowboards, music memorabilia signed by some of today’s most talented artists, and the list goes on and on. But as always, what is really exciting is our live auction.

Custom chopper built by Landon Jensen

Our live auction once again has a long list of items donated by many incredible people and companies. Jason Courter and Honda of Bellevue have been huge supporters since our inception and are once again donating a one-year lease of a 2012 Honda Accord. Keeping along the lines of the automotive industry, we will also have a beautiful custom-built motorcycle up for auction that was created by good friend of mine named Landon Jensen.

The live auction will also include some items that have always done well from previous years such as incredible game day experiences with the Seattle Seahawks, a bone fishing trip in the Bahamas, and even a $5000 backyard landscaping makeover donated by Telgenhoff Landscape Services.   The last item I will mention is a restaurant experience starting with a sushi making class at Seastar in Bellevue and ending with an amazing three-course dinner at John Howie Steakhouse in the Bravern. This experience will be described in detail at the auction by Chef John Howie himself who will also be donating a generous $12 from each sale of his newly finished book  directly back to the foundation.

There will be many other great items and experiences to bid on, not to mention live entertainment, all in order to help us reach our ultimate goal of building a center which will play a key role in rehabilitating the mind, body, and spirit of those suffering from catastrophic injuries.  I truly hope that all of you will come to not only experience a wonderful night of food, entertainment, and incredible items to bid on, but more importantly to hear about the great strides we have made in the past year and how much closer we are to seeing our vision come to fruition.

You all have helped us raise well over $1 million in years past, and those donations have brought us to a place where the Healing Center is quickly becoming a reality. That being said, this is our most important year to date.   Our dream is to help people who need proactive therapy and rehabilitation more than they could ever imagine, and working together to build a center where these individuals can come to heal, learn and continue to grow into whatever they aspire to be is what we as a foundation will continue to strive for. With your continued support, this will happen. The need for a Healing Center is now, and I pray all of you who are reading this will come to hear firsthand why and how we as an organization are making this happen. Once again, I thank you for taking the time to read and look forward to seeing you all October 6 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.

May God bless you and all of those you hold close.

Michael-Ryan Pattison




10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About the Paralympics

1. The Paralympics origins began in 1948 thanks to a Jewish neurosurgeon named Ludwig Guttman that fled Nazi Germany for Great Britain. At the time, a spinal cord injury was considered a death sentence, but Guttman was an unconventional man who refused to believe that the men and women he saw in hospitals didn’t have a future. He took them off sedation, put them in chairs, and got them playing organized sports as a form of rehabilitation.

2. The first Paralympic game was held in 1960, in Rome, Italy. 400 athletes with spinal cord injuries from 23 countries competed in 8 sports.

Opening ceremony for the 1960 Paralympic Games. Source: International Paralympics Committee

3. The word Paralympic means running ‘parallel’ or alongside the Olympics. It has nothing to do with paralysis or paraplegia.

4. While the games were originally created for individuals living with SCIs, they now include other types of mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, cerebral palsy, and what is referred to as les autres, or literally, the others. Les autres are athletes with disabilities that don’t fall into other major categories and include dwarfism, congenital disorders and multiple sclerosis.

Jessica Long, U.S. Paralympic competitor.
(September 14, 2008 – Source: China Photos/Getty Images AsiaPac)

5. The motto for the Paralympics used to be ‘Mind, Body, Spirit.’ Now it is ‘Spirit in Motion.’

6. The symbol for the Paralympic Games is the Agito, which is Latin for “I move.” The three colors found within the symbol (green, red, and blue) are the colors most widely represented in the world’s flags.

Symbol for the 2012 Paralympic Games

7. In 2001, the International Paralympic Committee signed a deal with the International Olympic Committee stating that Olympic host cities would be contracted to host the Paralympic Games as well. This means better facilities and exposure for the athletes competing in the Paralympics.

8. Not everyone who competes in the Paralympics has a disability. The sighted guides for athletes with visual impairments are considered to be such an essential part to their team that they are also medal candidates.

9. Funding is one of the biggest challenges that Paralympic athletes and organizations face. They receive about a fifth of the amount of support that the Olympics receive.

10. Another other big challenge that the Paralympics face is media coverage. Fortunately, coverage has been increasing over time, with the 2012 London Games shaping up to be the most widely broadcasted of any games thus far.

The Paralympic Games start tomorrow, August 29th and run through September 9th. For more information and coverage, visit



Personality Profile: Ali Ataman

Ali Ataman was born in 1979 in Izmir, Turkey. In 2000, he was in a car accident that injured his spinal cord at T-6. After rehabbing in Turkey, he decided to come back to the States to continue his education. In 2004, he graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a degree in Computer Science. Since then he has been working as a software engineer and also owns a company that specializes in import/export. In 2006, Ali started playing wheelchair tennis and within three years, managed to be in the top 200 in the world and ranked number one in Turkey. In 2011, he was invited to the national team and will be competing in the World Team Cup in upcoming years. 

When did you start playing tennis?

I started playing tennis when I was five. When I was nine, I joined tennis training sessions, and when I was 10, I won the state championship. It was unexpected at the time, but it definitely got the attention of a tennis club and a coach, and they asked me to train with their team. After that, tennis became very serious and important in my life.

How long after your injury were you back playing the game?

Unfortunately, it took a long time for me to get back to the game. First of all, I didn’t know that tennis could be played in wheelchairs. Nobody told me about it, I hadn’t seen it in any media. After my injury, I started sailing and that was the only sport I was doing. In 2006, six years after my accident, there was an event where they demonstrated many different sports, and I saw wheelchair tennis there taught by a great athlete, Anthony Anderson. Later on, I started training with him, and around 2007, I started playing my first tournaments.

 How often do you train and compete?

The International Tennis Federation only accepts the best nine tournaments you play within a year period.  Currently I play about eight tournaments in USA / Canada and about three or four in Europe. Depending on the schedule of the tournaments, I train three to six times a week. When we are off season, I play able-bodied tournaments and there have been some years I played the regular USTA Tennis League against able-body players.  For the people who don’t know wheelchair tennis, a wheelchair player gets two bounces instead of one. This one extra bounce allows us to play and compete against either able-bodied or wheelchair players.

I am training to be in the Paralympics in 2016. To increase my chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio, I have to play about 20-25 tournaments in 2015, which will require me to travel all around the world.

Ali Ataman doing what he does best.

Who inspires you both in your game and life?

I was always so impressed with the Olympians. Growing up (and even now), I watched every single competition they showed on TV. That dedication by the athletes definitely inspires me and keeps me motivated.

What are your goals for the next five years?

My main goal is to go to the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

What would a local rehabilitation center like the Healing Center mean to you in your daily life?

It would mean a lot to me and I am sure to anyone you see in wheelchairs. In my case, I train hard; I keep my body in shape and stay healthy as much as I can. But with all the exercises I do, my tennis training only helps my upper body, and nothing below my injury level.  This has been a concern of mine since my accident. I believe that having an accessible rehab center would benefit me in the short term, but most importantly, I think it will be very critical and helpful in the long term.

What are your biggest challenges?

At this point I do not think that I have any challenges because I try so hard to get over them when I have to face them. When I first was injured, I had way more challenges in life. Getting into a car was a challenge, getting on a plane was a challenge. But day by day, I did my best to remove all of them.

For example, when I first started traveling for the tennis tournaments, I faced lots of issues that I had never had to face before. We would go to a tournament in a different state, and all the athletes would stay in one hotel; there were 80 wheelchair athletes and two accessible rooms. At the time, I didn’t know how to get in a regular bathtub to take a shower.  So I tried and tried, until I found an effective and safe way for me to handle the issue. Now when I travel to any different country or any state, I do not even ask for an accessible room. I just leave it to the people who might really need that room.

What were your biggest motivations to meet and overcome those challenges?

I see my life the same way I saw it before my accident. If I was doing this specific thing before my injury, I tell myself, “There must be a way to do it now!”  Of course you need to really work towards it sometimes. I remember when I was in university, there was this very steep hill that I really hated and actually was afraid to go up when it rained. It bothered me so much at one point that I woke up one day at 6 am on a Saturday and drove there so that I could train going up that hill. I did it over and over for hours until I felt completely comfortable doing it.

In your opinion, what is the biggest issue that the spinal cord injury community faces?

I do not think that there is enough support or awareness for people living with spinal cord injuries.  I wish we get more attention towards our cause like MS or breast cancer. It’s year 2012 and it’s really sad that we do not even have a place to get some basic exercises done to our legs.  Also I wish we had more sponsors to help us out with wheelchair sports

Our blog title and rehabilitation philosophy is “Mind, Body, Spirit.” What does that mean to you in your own personal life and recovery process?

I think these three words sum everything up. To achieve and succeed in something, you should really, really want it.  You need to stay focused and motivated. You have to be in the right shape physically and mentally to be able to go after your goals.