On Wednesday, a bill inspired by two young Minnesota men is giving hope that those who can't walk due to spinal cord injuries by funding breakthrough research that could help them regain mobility.
The Jablonski/Rodreick Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury Grant Program would allocate $4 million annually to publicly-funded research institutions, like the University of Minnesota.
Jack Jablonski was injured while playing hockey, and his recovery has captivated many across the nation. The other name belongs to Gabe Rodreick, who calls himself the poster boy of spinal cord injuries.
When he was 15, Rodreick was injured during a diving accident while on an exchange program in Costa Rica. He had his ups and downs, but he made a childhood dream come true last year.
"I started writing music and realized that this injury, these complications, don't hold me back from what I love," he said.
Now, spends six days a week inside is dad's homemade gym in Minneapolis. For an hour a day, he focuses on getting stronger in the hopes that one day, he will walk again.
"I do believe a cure will come in my lifetime," he told FOX 9 News.
He also is the lead singer for Treading North and plays at places like the Fine Line.
"I close my eyes and I'm singing and everything just goes away," Rodreick said. "That's what music does for people -- takes the hurt away."
For the past four and a half years, Rodreick and his family have traveled the world in search of treatment, but that search came full circle on Wednesday with the introduction of the bill carrying his name.
"We need hope," Rodreick said at the Capitol. "This brings us hope."
Dr. Ann Parr is researching new therapies for spinal cord injuries at the U of M, and she said the money could help fund a clinical trial for her research.
"I think $4 million is enough to make a big difference," Parr said. "It may lead to people walking again."
With the state facing a budget deficit, the biggest question is how a $4 million grant can be funded. The bill's author is looking at the general fund.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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