GORHAM, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Each year, more than 12-thousand Americans suffer spinal cord injuries. The majority of the patients are men under the age of 30.
A man from Gorham, paralyzed from the waist down for more than a dozen years says helping others is crucial to his recovery.
Nearly 14 years ago, Santo DiDonato was getting ready to build a chimney on top of a house, when he stepped on a patch of ice.
'I stepped onto the roof and lost my balance, fell back and fell 25 to 30 feet', said DiDonato. The fall fractured his T12 vertabrae which left him without the use of his legs.
'Even from day one I realized how lucky I was to just be alive.'.
That 'attitude' helped DiDonato get through rehab and illnesses related to his accident.
Workman's compensation insurance covered the majority of his medical expenses and adaptive equipment. But over time DiDonato and his wife realized they wanted to give back. The couple started the DiDonato Paralysis Foundation to raise money for research.
In the long term they hope to provide grants to Mainers with spinal cord injuries to pay for adaptive equipment and other needs that are not covered by insurance.
'I know a lot of people that injuries like this that don't have insurance, don't get that opportunity, you are limited to what you can get,' said DiDonato.
The hope is it will raise awareness about how many people with spinal cord injuries are living with the equipment they desperately need.
The DiDonato Paralysis Foundation's First Annual Golf Tournament will be held Friday at Nonesuch River Golf Course. The event begins at 8 am, other activities include an auction and raffle in the morning. In the afternoon the event will feature a silent auction and award ceremony. If you would like more information you can go to the DiDonato Paralysis Foundation website at www.the-dpf.com