U2FP Cure Warrior Advocate Award Winners


2016: Kate Willette Kate is a prolific writer and activist. She holds an M.Ed and a BA in mathematics, both from the University of Washington in Seattle. When her husband broke his neck skiing in the spring of 2001, she gradually became determined to use her skills to further the cause of a cure for spinal cord injury. She published a memoir (Some Things Are Unbreakable) in 2003 that has won high praise from editors and readers alike. Her articles about the state of research science and the men and women who are engaged in it have been published in the United States, Norway, and online.
In recent years she’s enjoyed writing colorful, reliable, real-time narratives of U2FP events with a series of live blogs that are widely read and disseminated in the spinal cord injury community. In September of 2015 she published Don’t Call It a Miracle: The Movement to Cure Spinal Cord Injury. This book is a must-read for advocates, a lay-friendly, beautifully illustrated summary of the scientific, regulatory, and funding problems to be solved, and what you can do to speed things along.


2015: Corinne Jeanmaire
 – A car accident in Indonesia in 2001 left Corinne, founder of the EndParalysis Foundation, paralyzed from the waist down. After liaising with the experts in the field of spinal cord injury, her determination to contribute to a world without paralysis kept growing. Despite her disability, she has continued to travel the world and has witnessed the consequences of paralysis, especially in young people. She has participated in many scientific conferences and met with various researchers, clinicians and patients, sharing the opinion that chronic spinal cord injury can and must be cured. When the opportunity presented itself after a career in the for profit world, Corinne decided to focus on chronic spinal cord injury research because tomorrow’s breakthroughs will change lives.

With the support of people from around the world, she has used her knowledge, experience and network from the business world to form the EndParalysis organization: a small but goal driven foundation based on new collaborative models. The EndParalysis Foundation was officially launched on June 27th, 2014 in the Netherlands, and 100% of the donations go directly into SCI chronic research. The foundation’s first project is called CHASE IT, which is aimed at a pre-clinical therapy called Chondroitinase being worked forward with their partner, Spinal Research in the U.K. If successful in humans, it may lead to improvement and recovery in respiration, hand function, bladder control and possibly ambulation.


2014: Matthew Rodreick
– Matthew has been a passionate advocate for all things SCI recovery and cure related from the day his son was injured while body surfing in Costa Rica. A resident of Minneapolis, he has worked for the last several years in the effort to pass an SCI research funding bill in the state of Minnesota. Along the way he has connected to many members of the research and SCI communities; in the words of the person who nominated him for this award, he has exceptional skills as a “bridge-builder”.

Most recently Matthew produced a powerful video titled “Conversation“, where people living with paralysis talk about its effect on their daily lives. He also helped found Get Up Stand Up to Cure Paralysis (GUSU2CURE), an advocacy organization dedicated to the advancement of recovery and curative therapies. His belief, energy, and dedication to advancing a cure make him an exceptional advocate.



2013: Perry Cross – Congratulations to Perry Cross, winner of the 2013 U2FP Cure Warrior Advocate Award. Perry truly embodies his own motto, “Everything is possible.” He became a C2 vent-dependent quadriplegic at the age of 19 in a rugby accident, and gave his first motivational speech while still on life support.

Perry earned his Bachelor of Communications degree in 2000, and that same year began his advocacy work on behalf of spinal cord injury research. In 2010 he started his own foundation to raise money for research. Despite the risks involved in long-distance travel, Perry has come from Australia for the last 2 years to attend Working 2 Walk, and is a true Cure Warrior. To find out more about Perry, visit his Foundation’s web page.

2012: Roman and Don Reed – The 2012 award is shared by two people who have been speaking out for years about the urgency to find cures for paralysis. They got involved, like most of us, when a spinal cord injury impacted their family. They chose to work in the legislative arena, and they NEVER seem to get discouraged by the amount of time it takes or the setbacks they encounter. Day after day, year after year, they do the grinding work behind the scenes. Writing letters, making phone calls, driving hundreds of miles, attending meetings. And in the end, they get results. As a direct result of their efforts, the RIRC received funding for several important research projects. They were leaders in the effort to pass the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Act and the bill creating the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. With these two leading the battle, we have to believe the Roman Reed Act WILL get funded again.



2011: Geoffrey Kent – Geoff first attended Working 2 Walk in the spring of 2008, and he returned home determined to join the advocacy effort. He had taken up wheelchair racing after his spinal cord injury, and decided to put together a team for the Chicago Marathon with the goal of raising awareness. A small group of 7 athletes raised more than awareness, they raised $50,000 to support SCI research. At the same time Geoff founded a non-profit that he named “SCI Sucks “. It took courage to adopt such a name, but as their website banner says, “People tell us to change the name, but then we wouldn’t be telling the truth.”

SCI Sucks continued to field teams in the Chicago Marathon for the next 7 years, and raised close to $1/2 million to support spinal cord injury research. In 2015, SCI Sucks joined forces with Unite 2 Fight Paralysis to create Team SCIS/U2FP. Thanks to Geoff’s hard work laying the foundation for the team, it promises to expand and continue to provide desperately needed research funding.


Karen Miner


2010: Karen Miner – Karen Miner, a founder of Research for Cure , suffered a C4 spinal cord injury in 1992. She suddenly saw her marriage end, leaving her a paralyzed mother of two little girls. Despite all of the other demands on her time, she took it upon herself to become an active advocate on behalf of cures for SCI. Research for Cure is a California non-profit that organizes several fundraisers each year to support the work of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. Karen also worked on the successful campaigns for passage of the Roman Reed Spinal Cord injury Act, and Proposition 71 that created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

While raising her daughters to become successful adults, Karen has continued her advocacy work. In 2012 Research for Cure will partner with Unite 2 Fight Paralysis in hosting the Working 2 Walk Science & Advocacy Symposium in Irvine, California, home of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. We welcome Karen’s expertise in planning the program and bringing local advocates to the conference.