Shriners Hospitals for Children — Chicago is in the 23rd year of conducting a study entitled, “Long-term Outcomes and Life Satisfaction of Adults with Pediatric-Onset SCI.” The hospital has the largest longitudinal pediatric-onset SCI database in the world, with more than 500 participants enrolled in the study with up to 20 interview time points. Because of these multiple time points and because our participant group is getting older, the hospital is able to start looking into aging in the spinal cord injury population – something there is currently very little research on.
Reveca Torres, one of the former patients participating in this research, was paralyzed in a car accident as a teenager. After completing degrees in Fashion Design and Theatre Arts, Reveca worked as a costume designer and simultaneously worked with various organizations doing disability work in health, advocacy, recreation, and peer support.
Reveca started a nonprofit called BACKBONES after realizing that years of interaction and friendship with others living with spinal injuries made a significant impact in her own life. Reveca was recently named one of Documentary Magazine’s 2020 Editorial Fellows, a fellowship program designed to enhance opportunities for writers from underserved and underrepresented communities.
“I still am part of the long term research project at the Chicago Shriners Hospital and give feedback annually,” Reveca said. “I am happy to be a part of the research. I think the work Shriners Hospitals is doing to support children and teens with SCI is wonderful and clearly informed by the experiences of others who have gone through the childhood SCI experience.”
Earning the Prize of a Lifetime
In September, after more than a decade of working to build a community for people with spinal cord injuries through her nonprofit BACKBONES, Reveca got the surprise of a lifetime – a one million dollar prize.
Reveca is one of three inaugural recipients of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Visionary Prize in 2020, awarded to influential voices for the world of SCI who are unafraid to take bold risks. The unrestricted $1 million award is meant to draw attention to and celebrate passionate individuals advancing the world of SCI.
Watch an interview with Reveca, and learn more about her connection to longtime connection to Shriners Hospitals below: