NorCal SCI co-founders welcomed in Fresno by a vibrant SCI community

Mia and Franklin in front of the therapists at Leon S Peters.

Mia and Franklin in front of the therapists at Leon S Peters.

This past Wednesday, NorCal SCI co-founders Nick & Franklin made their first ever joint appearance in Fresno where they met staff from the Leon S Peters Rehabilitation Center at the Community Regional Medical Center, toured the new SCI-FIT facility in Clovis, met up with a number of individuals with spinal cord injury as part of the monthly support group that met at the hospital that evening and also hung out with a friend of NorCal SCI, Mia Gonzalez. Fresno County is home to about a million residents and it has a population of roughly 1,000 individuals with SCI.

We left San Jose at about 8 a.m. and had arranged to meet Mia at 11 for an early lunch. We hadn’t seen her since this past October and she looked great and happy. She is one busy person for sure between her work with the Fire Dept. (nearly 30 hours a week), continuing therapy, and the launch of her new business of public speaking.

Left to right: Steve Nava, Franklin and Nick at SCI-FIT in Clovis

Left to right: Steve Nava, Franklin and Nick at SCI-FIT in Clovis

After lunch, all three of us went over to Leon S Peters where Kaz Sensenbaugh, a lead physical therapist, had arranged for us to conduct an in-service for about 15 physical and occupational therapists. We relish such opportunities as these health professionals are the ones in the front lines with the newly-injured patients and if they’re better informed about our services and programs, hopefully they’d be able to connect us with the patients if we can assist them with anything. Our in-service lasted about 45 minutes and we got a ton of good feedback.

At that point, we drove over to Clovis to meet with the manager of the newest SCI-FIT location, Steve Nava. The facility is filled with great equipment and has big windows which let a lot of light in. We have funded several individuals down in Fresno through our Road To Recovery grant program who use SCI-FIT. Naturally, it was good to get caught up with Steve and they seem to be on a nice path to growth.

Peer Support meeting in Fresno

Peer Support meeting in Fresno

Finally, we returned to the hospital for the monthly support group meeting with a pot luck that included tons of foods, including lasagna, pizza, sandwiches, salads and much more. We were the guests for the evening which provided us with an opportunity to meet some old friends and make some new ones as well. We were also able to do a presentation to the group of about 25 people in attendance, sharing our vision and the types of programs and services available to them.

Our day couldn’t have gone any better and we got back to San Jose at 11 p.m. after logging 325 miles, well worth the trip. Next week, we’ll have an official announcement of how NorCal SCI will be better represented in Fresno County so that the SCI community can take better advantage of our programs.