The Perfect Storm
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Sean Gjos and
friend Ralph Vogel at the HealthSouth Training Center in El
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
program takes active, athletic individuals whohave already come
to terms with their spine injuries and pairs them up with newly
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.