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Wheel With Me: Jesi Stracham

The Motorcycle Accident That Caused My Spinal Cord Injury

My name is Jesi Stracham. On January 18, 2015, I was involved in a motorcycle accident as a passenger. Injuries included broken ribs, punctured lungs, traumatic brain injury, and injury to my spinal cord. After 'coding' twice and being resuscitated, needless to say, I'm lucky to be alive though I have been left paralyzed from the waist down.

What I can do even though i am paralyzed

Since my injury I have lived life to the absolute fullest, traveling across the country numerous times by myself, competed in the World WCMX Championships, the US Disabled Water Ski National Competition, snow-skied, rocked climbed, hand-cycled both on and off-road, raced off-road for Polaris being the first female and paraplegic to the UTV podium in the GNCC Series, finished second runner-up in the Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant, and am the first paralyzed individual to the Holy Grail in the Tough Mudder Series.

Wheel With Me Foundation

I take full advantage of the different Social Media platforms sharing my story there. In 2016 I partnered with Justified Cultures, a lifestyle-clothing brand for off-road racing. They allowed me to create my own line with the proceeds going to a foundation of my choice. No other foundation had the same vision as ours, so Dundee (Justified’s owner) suggested we create our own. With that, the Wheel With Me Foundation was born. We are a non-profit dedicated to building a transitional house to give SCI residents’ real-life skills towards independent living and integration into the real world.

In 2014 there were 12,500 reported new spinal cord injuries. In 2017 that number increased to 17,500. (Source: NSCISC.uab.edu) Although there are numerous active clinical trials making incomplete injuries more prevalent, there is currently no known cure for SCI’s. The population of SCI patients is cumulative; they aren’t getting better. More than HALF of these injuries are happening to young people (ages 16-30). More than 80% of injuries happen in men. Auto accidents are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries, (hard to believe with all of the distractions huh?)

The Wheel With Me Goal

Our goal is to build community area consisting of mobile/manufactured homes outfitted for wheelchair users in which users can gain day daily living skills like cooking and take care of one's self around the home, a gym space to teach continuing therapeutic fitness, and common areas for social interaction. Towards the front of the park, homes will serve as an in-patient style transitional housing. After the residents spend the 3-6 months becoming independent, they will move on to the independent transitional homes. There they will have their own space and practice the skills they have learned. Rent will be based on ability to pay, similar to low-income housing. The long-term goal is for the residents to be employed and living independently by their two-year injury date anniversary. These residents will leave with the skills to independently function as a wheelchair user in the walking world. They will leave with the skills to maintain a healthy diet, moderate exercise at home, mental development skills, knowledge to return to the workplace (with applications for education or employment submitted prior to discharge); ultimately creating contributing members of society.

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