Spirit of the Pack is a 501(c)(3) organization inspired by Kate Strickland, an avid cyclist, with a mission to assist individuals living with spinal cord injury, their families, and organizations that support them.
Kate was a college freshman enjoying that exhilarating sense of freedom many get while living away from home for the first time but on October 1, 2013, tragedy struck and her life was forever changed. Kate was riding her bike in Austin, training for the University of Texas Cycling Team when she was hit by a car. Kate suffered a broken neck from the accident and after surgery, extensive hospital stays and therapy (including participating in the Neural Recovery Network at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston); she was left quadriplegic, paralyzed from her upper chest down and unable to use her wrists or hands.
In May 2014, Kate required a second surgery to address a rare condition called syringomyelia that was not only causing her to lose the use of her left arm but was also threatening her health. Kate returned to college in August 2014 to achieve her academic goal of getting a degree in Plan II (a challenging interdisciplinary honors program) and perhaps go on to Law School. Returning to the University of Texas at Austin has been a trying experience for Kate and her family. Navigating the campus in a power wheelchair is much harder than walking or riding a bike. Kate also requires a caregiver/ personal assistant to help her throughout her days and nights. Currently that role is being filled by her mother, who is living in Kate’s dorm room with her, attending classes and taking notes for her and being constantly “on-call” to help Kate as needed. Can you imagine going to college with your mom? Those who know Kate know that she is working hard and will ultimately succeed. At home, her parents are continuing to modify their home so Kate can be more comfortable and access more of the house when she goes to visit or returns during school breaks.
Kate’s Ride is the biggest fundraiser of Spirit of the Pack. Kate is and has been very grateful to the individuals and businesses that have contributed to putting Kate’s Ride on as well as donating funds on her behalf. One of the things that Kate insisted on after the first rides were that the money should be used to help others as well and not just her.
There are many others besides Kate living with spinal cord injuries and we want to support those individuals, their families and organizations that support them in meeting their daily challenges and searching for a cure. Donations made to Spirit of the Pack will be used to support individuals living with spinal cord injuries, their families and organizations that help them. Below are some of the ways how funds raised from Kate’s Ride are being put to good cause.
Update on Kate: mid-December 2016:
Kate finished her sophomore year at the University of Texas last spring and was really looking forward to starting her junior year this past August.The semester started well with Kate attending class, participating in a focus group designed to bring awareness of the many issues disabled students face at UT, and generally enjoying being with her friends again. Yes…Mom was still living with her in the dorm providing her day-to-day care but Kate was able to attend classes with a friend instead of Mom and she also had help from a caregiver that she hired to help on days when she wasn’t in class with her friend. Mom and Dad were also excited by this new caregiver as he is an inactive Marine and newlywed that quickly became a new friend. So things were going well mentally and emotionally but physically Kate was starting to struggle with a pressure sore that just would not heal. Pressure sores are unfortunately fairly common in the paralysis community and can get very serious very quickly. By early October doctors were starting to suggest surgical intervention might be necessary. The implications of surgery meant Kate would have to withdraw from school and, pending successful surgery, would have a long road back to health. Kate decided at the end of October to medically withdraw from UT and undergo surgery at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. The Shepherd Center is a world-class spinal cord injury (SCI) surgical and rehab center similar to TIRR in Houston and the Craig Hospital in Denver, all of which Kate is now a former patient! Surgery went well and Kate is currently recovering. Although the holiday season turned out a little unconventional this year, Kate is hoping to be back in Texas by the new year and healthy enough to be at the ride wishing everyone a safe and enjoyable ride.
Our Success Stories!
Kate's FES Bike:
Some funds were also made available to purchase an FES bike for Kate to hopefully limit further muscle atrophy, improve her general health and ultimately begin to build muscle tissue back. Kate received her bike and was just starting to use it when she was advised of the need for surgical intervention on her pressure sore.
Here is a picture of the bike being setup with both Kate’s legs and arms getting ready for a workout!
Hopefully it won’t be too long before Kate has recovered sufficiently from her wound surgery to begin pedaling again. We would all like to see Kate back on Strava!
Keep Up The Good Work Kayla:
Kayla is a young woman who was injured just out of high school in a car accident leaving her paralyzed much like Kate. She has been going to rehabilitation at Project Walk in Missouri City, Texas. Through the emotional support and positive energy the Project Walk staff bring along with their skill in working to rehabilitate people that need it, Kayla is making progress.
Kate’s Ride is proud to be able to provide financial assistance for Kayla that helps her to continue the great program at Project Walk.
Reaching beyond Texas:
Kate and her family have met wonderful, giving people through the spinal cord injury community including the skilled doctors, compassionate nurses and everyday people throughout the country. With the mission of Kate’s Ride to assist individuals living with spinal cord injury, their families and organizations the help them, the family and ride directors are always looking for others to help. A woman named Trudy was brought to our attention as someone from the SCI community that could really benefit from any assistance as her medical condition can be a serious drain on her family’s finances at times. We decided to send her some help and are really glad we could help her when we did. As November unfolded and the wildfires burned parts of Gatlinburg and surrounding areas in Tennessee, Trudy and her family were impacted. We know her house was spared and we sure wish her and her family the best.