CUB SCOUTS AGAINST A FOREST FIRE?  Despite Odds, Supporters of Paralysis Cure Research Can Win

By Don C. Reed

On  May 27th, in Sacramento, California, there will be a legislative forest fire.  In the Appropriations committee, dozens of good bills will be considered. Most will die.

Assembly Bill 190, (Wieckowski, D-Fremont) our bill to fight paralysis– must survive.

But first, a question about a real-life forest fire. If you were an 8-year-old cub scout, and you were out in the wilderness and saw a forest fire approaching like a wall of fire, and there was no way to out run it—what could you do to survive? The answer might surprise you.  (No, you should not lie down in a nearby stream; that would just boil you alive.) I will tell you later what two brave cub scouts actually did.

Back to the fight against paralysis. Wednesday my paralyzed son Roman Reed and I drove to Sacramento, to meet legislative aides of members of Appropriations committee. We were there to support Assembly Bill 190: a $3 fine for bad driving, money to go to the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act.

How are we doing? To the surprise of many, we passed our first committee meeting, public safety, 4-2. Now we face a larger and more difficult committee, the 17-member Appropriations.

If we can pull off an against-the-odds upset victory here, it will be because of the groups and individuals who have honored AB 190 with their support.

At the bottom of this message I have posted a sampling of our friends.

Glance through this list, and notice where they come from: Texas, Florida, New Jersey, China, Arizona, New York, California, Washington DC, Japan,  across America and beyond: wherever people work to bring a cure for paralysis, there are friends for AB 190.

You want to help us too? Please do!  All we need is a quick email (or phone call) of support. Nothing fancy is required.

Here is a SAMPLE LETTER. Important: on the Intro line of your email, put: AB 190 APPROPRIATIONS

Inside start off with your name, street address, zip, telephone, so they know you are a real person.

RE: Support for Assembly Bill 190 (Wieckowski, D-Fremont)


Assembly Bill 190 would charge bad drivers a $3 add-on fine, all proceeds to fund the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act, which is administered through the UC System.

As car crash is the number one cause of spinal cord injury, it is only fair that reckless drivers should help pay for the misery they cause.

“Roman’s Law” has been a huge success for California in every way, including financial. It is a “money magnet” because it brought in more than four times more money than it cost the state . In taxpayer dollars, it spent $14 million over the ten years of its existence—and attracted  $64 million in add-on grants from out of state, new money for California.

Paralysis is wide-spread, with an estimated 650,000 Calfornians afflicted. Nationally, approximately 5.6 million Americans suffer some degree of paralysis. Because paralysis sufferers may face lifetime medical bills of $3-5 million dollars each,  they are almost always forced onto the Medicare and/or Medi-Cal rolls, at enormous cost to the taxpayers.

In the past, the program funded stem cell research in the past, including what became the world’s first human trials on newly paralyzed people, the famous Geron trials. However, stem cells are not our main focus, now that California has Proposition 71’s stem cell program in place. Since 2008, we have funded no stem cell research at all.

We focus  mainly on the “everything else”, problems and possibilities of a condition long considered impossible to cure. For instance, when an injury happens, the damage to the spine may be a small hole—but that wound will actually grow inside the spine, a “secondary injury” as the body’s immune system fights back, and increases the size of the injury, and its severity. A person entering the hospital still able to use his hands could lose that ability.  There may be a way to limit that secondary injury, by controlling the immune response.

Other targets for investigation include chronic pain (some paralytics live in constant agony), bowel and bladder control, life-death fluctuations in blood pressure, and much more.

Even the smallest return of function is vital; when my son recovered the use of the triceps muscles of his arms, that allowed him to drive an adapted van—instead of having to rely on a paid attendant.

AB 190 is the hope of healing: a zero-tax way to fund research for cure. (for more info, go to my website,

Please support AB 190.

(If you want to mention a family member or friend who suffers any form of paralysis, that is helpful, but not mandatory.)

Thank you.


Now, remember  those cubscouts, faced with a roaring forest fire? They dug two little graves for themselves, climbed inside, put their shirts over their faces, and pulled the dirt back over them, as best they could. The forest fire roared over them. The sound was deafening, the heat almost unbearable. But when the blaze had passed, two little kids sat up. The sweat from their bodies turned the dirt to mud, they both had mild sunburn from the heat—but they survived.

And so may we, if we are equally determined and creative.

Here are the members of the committee: write or call at least the top two, the chair and vice chair.

Felipe Fuentes – Chair  Dem-39 (916) 319-2039

Diane L. Harkey – Vice Chair  Rep-73 916) 319-2073

Charles M. Calderon  Dem-58 (916) 319-2058 

Mike Gatto  Dem-43 (916) 319-2043

Donald P. Wagner, Rep-70 (916) 319-2070

Steven Bradford  Dem-51 (916) 319-2051

Bob Blumenfield  Dem-40 (916) 319-2040

Isadore Hall III  Dem-52 (916) 319-2052

Jim Nielsen  Rep-2 (916) 319-2002

Chris Norby  Rep-72 (916) 319-2072

Tim Donnelly  Rep-59 (916) 319-2059

Jose Solorio  Dem-69 (916) 319-2069

Ricardo Lara  Dem-50 (916) 319-2050

Holly J. Mitchell  Dem-47 (916) 319-2047

Jerry Hill  Dem-19 (916) 319-2019 

Mike Davis  Dem-48 (916) 319-2048

Nora Campos  Dem-23 (916) 319-2023

Who has helped us already? Below, in alphabetical order, are just a few of the amazing friends who have already endorsed AB 190. (I hope they will also call or email the chair and vice-chair of this committee!)

Texans for Stem Cell Research
David L. Bales, Chairman

Jim Bennett
Spinal Cord Injury Research Foundation, Rutgers University, New Jersey

Paul Berg (Nobel Laureate)
Stanford University School of Medicine

Jeffrey A. Bluestone, Ph.D, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
University of California, San Francisco

Rayilyn Brown
Arizona Chapter National Parkinson Foundation

Nancy Brackett, Ph.D.
U of Miami School of Medicine

Nina Brown, Founding Boardmember, Lorraine Chammah, President
Texans for Advancement of Medical Research

California Healthcare Institute

Susan Chandler
Treasurer, California Disability Rights Organization

President Calvin Cole

California Chiropractic Association
Kassie Donoghue, DC, Government Affairs Chair

W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D.
Miami Project to Cure Paralysis

John Dutra, California assemblymember (D-Fremont, retired)
Author, Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of 1999

V. Reggie Edgerton, UCLA Professor
Brain Research Institute

Brooke Ellison
(Christopher Reeve’s last project was directing a movie about Brooke)

Jeannie Fontana
CEO SALSa, Inc. Solutions for ALS

Eric Fingerhut, Chancellor
University System of Ohio

University of California
Karen French, Associate Director, Legislative Affair

Leeza Gibbons
Leeza’s Place (Alzheimer’s)

Lawrence Goldstein
Director, UCSD Stem Cell Program

Hans Keirstead, (researcher whose Geron work now in world’s first clinical trials stem cells)
UC-Irvine Professor, Chair, Scientific Advisory Board, California Stem Cell, Inc.

Stephanie A. Kolakowsky-Hayner, PhD
Director of Rehabilitation Research, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center

Suzy Kim, Medical Director, SCI Acute Care
UCI Medical Center

Robert N. Klein, Founder,
Proposition 71, the Californians for Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative

Dena Ladd
Executive Director, Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures

Sherry Lansing
Chair, Sherry Lansing Foundation
Academy Award Winner Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

Stem Cells Inc.
Martin McGlynn, President & CEO

Karen Miner
Chair, Research for Cure

Ed Monuki
Associate Professor, UC Irvine

Rania Nasis
General Manager, CA Stem Cell, Inc.

Richard Patterson, M.D.
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center

Renee A Reijo Pera, Ph.D.
Director of Reproductive and Stem Cell Biology Division, Stanford University

Dan Perry, President, CEO
Alliance for Aging Research, Washington, CD

Claire Pomeroy,
Chief Executive Officer, UC Davis Health Department

Brock Reeve
Executive Director, Harvard Stem Cell Institute

Bill Remak
Chairman, California Hepatitis Task Force

Duane Roth

Rose Marie Salerno
VA Palo Alto Health Care System

Lori Sames
Executive Director, Hannah’s Hope Fund

Bernie Siegel, founder and chair:
Stem Cell Action Coalition
Genetics Policy Institute

Marilyn Smith
Executive Director, Unite 2 Fight Paralysis

Michael Sofroniew, M.D.
Professor, UCLA

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Peter T. Wilderotter, President & CEO

Shinya Yamanaka, Ph.D  (inventor of induced Pluripotent Stem cells)
Director, Center for iPS Cell Research and Applications
Kyoto University

Fanyi Zheng, Professor and Associate Director
Shanghai Stem Cell Institute, Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, China

Jerry Zucker (movie director, Ghost, Airplane, Naked Gun)
Zucker Productions, Founding board member, CURESNOW

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