September 18, 2020

On Being an ALTSO Advocate


We have often heard the saying that we are all created equal or that everyone puts on their pants one leg at a time. Although this may be true for many, it is not so easy to say for those who have lost a limb or suffer from a congenital disease or who have less mobility.

Paralyzed from the waist down due to an accident in 1998 with a partially severed spine, having the best medical care and technology was essential to my recovery. I will never forget the first time that my legs crossed when rolling over in bed without having to pull them over each other. I could have told you about the first time that I stood up or the first steps that I took, but no, when all of the experts have already told you that you would never walk again, the smallest things can bring you the biggest hope.


Besides, the distance between the hospital bed and the wheelchair seemed like Everest and to be honest, I was scared. The reason I am telling you this is that even though I had the best care and technology it was a long hard road ahead and I still have to fight every day to put my pants on one leg at a time.


So imagine what the children that ALTSO provides essential products for have already been going through and the mountainous climb ahead of of them. By supporting ALTSO’s initiatives you can be a key partner in making that difficult journey a lot easier.



ALTSO's Joshi modular prosthetic limb.


It is simple, a child that does not have some semblance of autonomy will find it nearly impossible to be an integral part of their community let alone access an education. We take this for granted in the western civilization. The recent pandemic has reminded us of how fragile we all are and the difficulties that children face if they cannot go to school or even for us to not be able to go to work. The children ALTSO provides products for do not need a global pandemic to know or feel these hardships, they live them every day.


ALTSO has always had a very close relationship with both their local partners and sponsors, listening to their needs and always innovating. The feedback received on the ground from local partners that deliver the care and products to children in need helped them identify the need for stronger more adaptable material that can be serviced locally with basic tools.


Partnering with a local manufacturer, they designed and manufactured a more durable prosthetic limb at a fraction of the cost that can stand the test of time and the terrain while at the same time be adjustable. The Joshi modular prosthetic limb kit which is another innovative approach by ALTSO. Because ALTSO is committed to providing continual care for their patients until they reach 21 years of age, the development of durable products that can evolve as the child grows is essential to ensuring ALTSO reaches that goal.


Concerning the many sponsors actively involved in supporting mobility and access to education, ALTSO has always listened to to their needs and has continuously increased access to information and tailored their communications to meet their ever changing and demanding needs. This is how the CoolKids Club was created -  a monthly giving program whereby members provide ALTSO CoolKids with the continuous mobility treatment they need. ALTSO has seen some of their CoolKids go on to graduate elementary school, high school, and either obtain a technical or university level education. This can be directly linked to these continuous program partners.


I attended my first ALTSO event in 2012 and it was unlike any of the other charity events that I had attended. After speaking to the ALTSO founder, the team, sponsors, and attendees I never looked back and have been an active supporter of the ALTSO cause ever since. Over the years I have bared witness to so many people, just like me who have attended an event for the first time, and who have gone on to become active advocates for ALTSO and greater mobility.



Andre and his wife at Rocktoberfest-London in 2018. 


Someone once asked me why I was so passionate about the cause and I honestly gave them every text book response I had -- (I am disabled and feel concerned, It is the right thing to do, we have social obligations, clients and partners will be there, it is good publicity) only to see that they were not buying it. So I simply told him, it makes me feel good and in that single moment he understood and has become an annual supporter and sponsor of ALTSO.


I am extremely grateful to Bill Maher for introducing me to ALTSO back in 2012 which has had a profound impact on my life, to the sponsors that have embarked on this journey with me over the years, and to both of the bands, 6 Floors Under and The Overgrounds, that I have had the privilege of working with at both the London and New York Rocktoberfest fundraising events that have given so much of their energy and time.


Finally, ALTSO has been listening, innovating and engaging over the years and 2020 is no different. It is not because there is a global pandemic that the many children ALTSO provide essential care and material for, stop suffering.


This year I am happy to invite you to participate or sponsor a very unique Virtual Rocktoberfest, to be held on October 22nd. We may not be able to safely gather, but we can still support the CoolKids, giving them the mobility solutions they need, and the PPE and sanitizing supplies ALTSO's program partners need to operate so safely.


One of nearly 19,000 CoolKids.


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