Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Community Answering Call For Help For Mikey

Michael Stolzenberg is a young man with a lot of courage. The avid young athlete and playful spirit suffers from a rare immune disease.
Read Carey Codd's blog about Michael
Click here to donate to Michael's Rehabilitation

Click here for video clip
Reporting Carey Codd
E-mail WESTON (CBS4) ― Just one day after CBS4's Carey Codd showed you the inspirational story of 8-year-old Michael Stolzenburg, you have delivered in way the family couldn't have imagined.

Since we aired Michael's story, viewers like you have donated much needed money for prosthetics and local performers are offering to put on benefit concerts to help Michael. All of this is in addition to a community arranged fundraiser called Miles for Mikey. It will be held on Saturday, December 6th at Tequesta Trace Park in Weston.

Michael is a young man with a lot of courage. The avid young athlete and playful spirit suffers from a rare immune disease.

Last summer Michael contracted an infection from a bacteria found in tropical climates, Chromobacterium Violaceum. Most people can fight it off. But with an immune deficiency disease the bacteria can be fatal.

"He was considered gravely ill," his mother Laura said. "We didn't know if he was gonna make it."

After seven weeks in the hospital, Michael survived. But he sustained oxygen loss to his limbs and doctors were forced to amputate his hands and his feet.

Yet the energetic and vibrant boy exudes happiness. When the family sat down to speak with us Monday, Michael mugged for the cameras and playfully joked with his parents and brothers.

When he put on our microphone he cleverly played the role of a TV reporter, saying, "Testing. Testing. 1-2-3."

It is clear the doctors may have amputated Michael's hands and feet but they did not amputate his spirit.

His father Keith says the ordeal challenged the family but he is bursting with pride over his youngest son's handling of the situation.

"It's a positive energy because Michael has the positive energy," Keith said. "Michael has been as strong as anyone could possibly be in this situation and he's a character."

"Michael gives me strength every single day," Laura said. "His spirit is amazing."

Michael is a character and he loves to play, but he is serious about returning to the sports field. "I want to get back playing sports. My friends, family, watching me, cheering me on," Michael said.

In fact, before his medical emergency Michael had been named quarterback for his pee wee football team, the Weston Warriors.

The family is making a plea for help. Michael needs high quality prosthetics to allow him to play sports and be independent. As he grows, he'll need new prosthetics. The family created the Michael Stolzenberg Rehabilitative Trust to raise money to pay for the prosthetics.

Michael is grateful for the community's prayers and donations. "They're very nice and very kind and I thank them for putting money into the trust," Michael said.

His family hopes Michael's youth will enable him to adapt to the prosthetics and be successful, not only on the athletic field but in life.

"As a family we are doing everything we can to give him a bright future," Laura said. "He will have every type of prosthetic that he needs and wants so he can do whatever he wants --- the same if not better. And in my heart, he will."

You can read more about Mikey, the fundraiser and how you can help by checking out Reporter Carey Codd's blog.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

8 Year Old Adam Bender - “Let us play!”

My name is Bernabe Duran, moderator of this blog and I came across Adam Bender in the news and felt that it is important that people know of his vision and purpose in life. Through my personal experience these last 6 years actively participating as a Life Coach and personal effectiveness/leadership mentor, I find that people generally lack a vision/purpose for thier life, especially when it comes to disabilities. Here is a kid, 8 years old who instintively knows his purpose in life. My question and challenge to all of you is "What can you do to push through your own personal challenges to make a difference with someone you may not know? What will be the legacy you leave behind?" I truly hope you enjoy this video of inspiration and take action to be in service to help others who may be down on themselves looking for an angel like yourselves.

Here is a quote from Adam Bender himself!

"I hope that when others see me play, they will be aware that a physical challenge can be overcome when you have the desire and you believe in yourself. My wish is that all children, no matter what their ability, who want to play sports be given the chance. With the help of my family, I want to start an organization that will help kids with physical challenges be able to participate in sports. In my own words “Let us play!”"

Adam Bender

Monday, November 3, 2008

Harnessing The Power Of The Brain

Scott Pelley Reports How Brain Computer Interface May Help The Paralyzed In The Future
(CBS) Once in a while, we run across a science story that is hard to believe until you see it. That's how we felt about this story when we first saw human beings operating computers, writing e-mails, and driving wheelchairs with nothing but their thoughts.

Quietly in a number of laboratories, an astounding technology is developing that directly connects the human brain to a computer. It's like a sudden leap in human evolution - a leap that could one day help paralyzed people to walk again and amputees to move bionic limbs. As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, the connection has already been made for a few people, and for them it has been life changing.


Scott Mackler was a husband, father and successful neuroscientist when he received perhaps the worst news imaginable. At the age of 40, he could run a marathon in three and a half hours, but it was about that time he discovered he had ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease.

His brain was losing its connection to virtually every muscle in his body. The near-total paralysis would also stop his lungs. He didn't want to live on a ventilator, so nine years ago he recorded this message for his two sons.

"I know the future holds lot of love and joy and pride and that life goes on and I’ll be watching you along the way and I love you very much and I'll see ya," he said in a home video.

Today, Scott Mackler's mind is sharp as ever, but his body has failed. Doctors call it "locked in" syndrome. Scott and his wife Lynn learned to communicate with about the only thing he has left, eye movement.

To signal "yes," Lynn says Scott looks at her; to signal "no," he looks away.

But recently Scott found a new voice. "Can everyone hear the PC? I apologize for the quality of the voice," he asked in writing.

Scott wrote these words, one letter at a time, with nothing but his thoughts and the help of what's called a brain computer interface or "BCI." He wears a cap that picks up the electrical activity of his brain and allows him to select letters simply by thinking about them. Then the computer turns his sentences into speech.

"I hate being helpless and when other people put words in my mouth," he wrote.

"Well, this is a very unusual interview for 60 Minutes. We've done something we never, ever do, and that is we've submitted the questions in advance because it takes Scott a little while to put the answers together using the BCI device," Pelley remarks. "Scott, I understand that earlier in the progression of this disease you said that, at the point you had to go on a ventilator you didn't wanna go on anymore, but today you are on a ventilator. And I'm curious about what changed your mind?"

"Because I can still communicate," Scott replied, with the help of the BCI device.

It isn't fast. It takes 20 seconds or so to select each letter. Scott told 60 Minutes it took him about an hour to write the answers to our 16 questions. But he writes well enough to continue his research and manage his lab at the University of Pennsylvania, where he still goes to work everyday.

"You use this system even to text your sons, for example. And I wonder what it would mean to your life today if the system somehow was taken away from you?" Pelley asks.

Scott says he couldn't work with BCI.

Asked what it has meant to their relationship, Scott's wife Lynn tells Pelley, "Well, he's happier. He can communicate with not just us, but with the world. This gave him his independence. His working, intellectual, scientist independence back."

The system was developed by neuroscientist Dr. Jonathan Wolpaw at New York State's Wadsworth Center.

Click here for the full story!