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UCLA Magazine Summer 2004
Of God and Blue-Footed Boobies
The Providential Scholar
Of the Community, By the Community, For the Community
Good Fellows
The Perfect Storm
The Next Step
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Summer 2004
The Perfect Storm
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Sean Gjos and Friend in the Hockey Rink
Sean Gjos and friend Ralph Vogel at the HealthSouth Training Center in El Segundo

Some of the hospital and medical costs were covered, but the coverage trailed off when it came to physical rehabilitation, which experts say is crucial if the patient is going to adapt well, Vogel says. "Then, when it came to retrofitting — things like making the home or transportation adaptable for wheelchair use — the coverage disappeared altogether."

Within days, Vogel, Eisner and Young had begun a fund-raising drive for Gjos. Some generous and prominent benefactors stepped in, among them Disney CEO Michael Eisner, who is Eric's father, and PepsiCo CEO Roger Enrico, who was slated to deliver the class commencement address. Donations also poured in from Anderson faculty members such as Al Osborne, Eric Sussman '87 and incoming dean Bruce Willison '70. Anderson students themselves contributed $50,000.

"Within a few weeks," says Eric Eisner, "it was clear that this thing, which had begun because of Sean, was going to be much bigger than Sean."

From that realization came the seeds of what would grow to become SCORE — the Spinal Cord Opportunities for Rehabilitation Endowment, a small foundation that is changing perceptions about disability the way a small pebble changes the surface of a placid lake, perfectly and relentlessly.

Score's mentoring program takes active, athletic individuals whohave already come to terms with their spine injuries and pairs them up with newly injured people.

Willison, who had been installed as dean just a few months earlier, was impressed by how the nascent organization so quickly developed. "There's a tremendous bonding that takes place among our students," he says. "The fact that they undertook this — and still are involved in it years later, when they have so many other things going on in their lives — speaks to the unique spirit and enduring sense of community here."

At first, Gjos knew little about his friends' extracurricular efforts. Through April he was being cared for at UCLA Medical Center under the watchful eye of Dobkin, who is one of the world's leading specialists in the rehabilitation of spinal-cord-injured patients. If Gjos' injury was the sort of event that Emily Dickinson referred to as a "tongueless grief," then Dobkin was Gjos' first sign that UCLA is an institution where strident voices are raised to challenge that grief.

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