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About Friends for Michael

Friends for Michael LogoMission Statement

Our mission is to encourage and support research that will help victims overcome their spinal cord injuries as well as providing grants and activities to improve the quality of life for the individuals having this disability, providing educational spinal cord injury awareness and prevention to others and award annual scholarships to students who volunteer their time to the organization.

About Friends For Michael

Friends For Michael was founded in 1997 due to the car accident of 18 yr. old Michael Brent, well known in the community for his academic and athletic talents. In January 2001, FFM set up an endowment with the Kentucky Spinal Cord Research Center at the University of Louisville. In 2002 FFM joined with the Kentucky Wheelchair Athletic Association and Derby City NSCIA to form the very first Spinal Cord Injury Association of Kentucky (SCIAK) FFM sponsors several annual events that has brought in several celebrities such as Hall of Fame Coach Denny Crum, Miss America Heather French Henry, 2003 Ms. Wheelchair KY Missy Jenkins and 2005 Ms. Wheelchair KY Michelle Bazeley, former UofL Football Coach John L. Smith, former IRL Driver, now team owner, Sam Schmidt, Olympian Medalist Dr. Doug Sharp, and nationally renowned researcher Dr. Scott Whittemore, and more. In May 2004, Michael received UK’s Adelstein Award, given to students with disabilities who are inspirations to others & graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism. . Michael returned in the fall and became staff writer for the Cat’s Pause while he pursued his Masters degree. Michael was just 2 1⁄2 wks away from graduation when he passed away. In 2007 we also made our first donation to the University of Kentucky Spinal Cord & Brain Injury Research Center and set up a scholarship fund through the UofK Disability Service Center.

In honor of Michael, Friends For Michael broke ground on April 17, 2008 for the new “ALL ACCESSIBLE PLAYGROUND at the new Henry County Recreational and Services Park being built in New Castle, KY. This project is scheduled to open in 2009. Michael is no longer in our physical presence but his faith, courage and determination will continue to inspire many for years to come. His story and memory will not die, but will continue to help us strive towards helping others. It is what Michael would have wanted. Please come be a part of something wonderful happening because of such a terrific young man!

History of Friends For Michael

On July 21, 1997 the lives of many people changed when Michael Brent suffered a spinal cord injury while driving home from working at the Valhalla Golf Club. A hot day on the course caused Michael to black out on his drive home, rolling his car several times. He remembered not being able to feel his arm and hours later was told he was paralyzed from the neck down.

Friends and family surrounded him to lend their support by organizing some fundraisers to help offset expenses of such a catastrophic injury. After a car wash/bake sale raised $1600 and a golf scramble soon followed, Friends for Michael was born!

Throughout the first year, not only did Friends for Michael realize the expenses for Michael, but they also understood the need that many people incur when faced with such a life changing injury.

To name a few of the things that we do:

  • 1999 -incorporated, becoming a 501 ( c ) 3 non profit organization
  • 2001 – joined efforts with Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville
  • Annual fundraisers: Golf Scramble, 5K Run Walk & Wheel
  • Annual poster contest throughout Henry County & Eminence School Districts
  • 2003 – became 1 of 3 founding members of the Spinal Cord Injury Association of KY
  • 2005- Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center names Postdoctoral Fellowship in honor of Friends For Michael
  • Over $200,000 donated to Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville and the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center at University of Kentucky
  • Annual $500 scholarship to local high school student
  • Numerous other grants to spinal cord injury survivors and much more!
  • 2008 – Groundbreaking Ceremony for the All Accessible Playground in Henry County, KY
  • 2010 – Placed the Michael Brent Resource Center in Frazier Rehab Institute
  • 2010 – Grand Opening of the All Accessible Playground

Friends for Michael provides annual activities for disabled children and adults as well. Some of those activities includes A Day at the Races at Churchill Downs, is an activity everyone can enjoy together. Millionaire row seating, presentation of the silver tray to the winning jockey/owner/trainer of the race sponsored by Friends For Michael and the chance to meet and talk with other spinal cord injury survivors makes this a wonderful day…these are just a couple of our fun activities.

Not only has Friends For Michael accomplished much on a local, state, regional and national level, but Michael, himself, was a big part of the inspiration to continue our efforts. Michael went on to continue his college career at the University of Kentucky earning his Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism in 2004. He also was awarded UK’s Adelstein Award, given to students with disabilities who are an inspiration to others. He returned to school in the fall of 2004 to pursue his Masters degree and work as a reporter for the “Cat’s Pause”, a weekly print and online publication, about the University of Kentucky sports programs. Michael was also an active member of the Phi Kappa Phi Fraternity.

On April 17, 2007, only two and a half weeks before time to receive his Master’s degree, Michael suddenly became ill, suffered a perforated ulcer and passed away within hours of the onset, leaving behind a legacy of his own. Just as Michael faced life with a vengeance, he also faced death with it as well.

To keep Michael’s spirit alive, Friends For Michael will continue it’s efforts to help find a cure for spinal cord injury/disease, help others live a quality of life, provide spinal cord injury prevention and awareness, keep the importance of research in the fore front of the public and help others succeed in what they want in life.

Michael’s sudden death, left a void in the lives of many. But his strength, determination and his “never say never” attitude taught us all how to live. From the moment of his accident, Michael did not feel sorry for himself. He worried about those around him and how they were surviving it. His smile was one that people saw for miles and will remember forever. His will to live a full life, no matter what the obstacle, is something we all learned from him. Michael set an example like no other. What he accomplished in 27 years is more than most will accomplish in a full lifetime. Below is a brief history of Michael and his inspiration and determination behind Friends For Michael.

We need your help more than ever now. Michael’s sudden and untimely death reminds us how fragile life is and how important it is to find a cure for spinal cord injury. I ask you to PLEASE consider giving generously to our organization so we can continue to make dreams come true for others.

Come support our efforts to provide a quality of life for others with spinal cord injury/disease as we raise funds for research, grants, scholarships and our all accessible playground. All our events can be found on the Events page.

You can also read about the Michael Brent Resource Room at Frazier Rehab by clicking on www.spinalcordmedicineresources.com (http://www NULL.spinalcordmedicineresources NULL.com/) .

Hope to see you soon!

About Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function such as mobility or feeling. Frequent causes of damage are trauma (car accident, gunshot, falls, etc.) or disease (polio, spina bifida, Friedreich’s Ataxia, etc.). The spinal cord does not have to be severed in order for a loss of functioning to occur. In fact, in most people with SCI, the spinal cord is intact, but the damage to it results in loss of functioning. SCI is very different from back injuries such as ruptured disks, spinal stenosis or pinched nerves.

A person can “break their back or neck” yet not sustain a spinal cord injury if only the bones around the spinal cord (the vertebrae) are damaged, but the spinal cord is not affected. In these situations, the individual may not experience paralysis after the bones are stabilized.

Difference between a paraplegic and a quadriplegic

Spinal cord injuries occur when there’s damage to the spinal cord. The result is loss of function, usually in mobility or feeling. Severe injuries that occur in the neck usually result in Quadriplegia, which is paralysis from about the shoulders down. Typically, the higher the neck injury, the more Disability there is.

Quadriplegics lack the ability to move their arms and legs, and some may require a Ventilator to breathe. Paraplegics have an injury further down the spinal cord and experience a loss of sensation and movement in their legs and in part or all of their trunk. In many cases, there is some use of their hands or arms. Depending on the extent of the injury and whether the damage is permanent, there may be a loss of bladder and bowel control.

More than 54 percent of spinal cord injuries are the result of vehicular collisions. More than a quarter result from other medical conditions and sports injuries. Falls make up about 18 percent.

In addition to quadriplegic and paraplegic, the terms “complete” and “incomplete” are used to describe the type of spinal cord injury. Complete injuries result in total loss of sensation and movement below the injury. Both sides of the body are affected equally.

Incomplete injuries result in partial loss of feeling and function below the injury. For example, someone with an Incomplete Injury may be able to move one limb more than another or feel a part of the body that can’t be moved. Complete and incomplete injuries can occur in Paraplegia and quadriplegia.

Other effects may include low blood pressure, inability to regulate blood pressure, reduced control of body temperature and inability to sweat below the injury.


Did you know that there are 21 million Americans with a physical disability? Shockingly, less than 10-percent of them participate in daily physical activity. Nike and U.S. Paralympics want to identify and increase the number of persons with physical disabilities active in sport by making them aware of Paralympic organizations in their community. Please join us in distributing the attached web-link – www.usparalympics.org (http://www NULL.usparalympics NULL.org/). The link includes the recent Nike ad, which features Paralympian and wheelchair basketball player Matt Scott. By sharing this link with your friends, business associates, parents, athletes and supporters, we hope to expand awareness about the opportunities to be active, healthy and make a difference in the lives of thousands of physically disabled people.

About Michael Brent

MichaelCowboy.pngMichael was born on July 11, 1979. From day one it seemed as if he were destined for great things. By the time he was 5 yrs old his athletic skills were escalating. He attended Campbellsburg Elementary School where is continued to excel in academics as well. By the time he was in high school at Henry County (KY), it was evident he would be a top scholar-athlete, which he proved to be the truth.

Michael gathered many accolades and honors at the end of his senior year both athletically and academically. After offers from many states and schools, he accepted a golf scholarship to Campbellsville University. Only weeks before he was to leave for his first day of college, Michael endured his injury, spending several months in the University of Louisville Trauma Center and Frazier Rehab institute recuperating and rehabbing to face his next challenge….learning to live life in a different way.

Michael went on to continue his college career at the University of Kentucky earning his Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism in 2004. He also was awarded UK’s Adelstein Award, given to students with disabilities who are an inspiration to others. He returned to school in the fall of 2004 to pursue his Masters degree and work as a reporter for the “Cat’s Pause”, a weekly print and online publication, about the University of Kentucky sports programs. Michael was also an active member of the Phi Kappa Phi Fraternity.

On April 17, 2007, only two and a half weeks before time to receive his Master’s degree, Michael suddenly became ill, suffered a perforated ulcer and passed away within hours of the onset, leaving behind a legacy of his own. Just as Michael faced life with a vengeance, he also faced death with it as well.

Michael brought years of joy and happiness to so many. His strength, faith, determination and “never say never” attitude taught us all how to live. From the moment of his accident, Michael did not feel sorry for himself. He worried about those around him and how they were surviving it. His smile was one that people saw for miles and will remember forever. His will to live a full life, no matter what the obstacle, is something we all learned from him. Michael set an example like no other. What he accomplished in 27 years is more than most will accomplish in a full lifetime. Godspeed Michael Brent.

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