ABOUT FRIENDS FOR MICHAEL
Friends For Michael was founded in 1997 due to the car accident of eighteen year 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!
The 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.
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.
We hope to see you soon!
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.
- Our Mission Statement
Support Friends for Michael
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 playgrounds.
Board of Directors
Matthew Brent, President
Linda Berry, Secretary
Stuart Schmidt, Treasurer
Linda Sarrett Mathis