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A medical fund forSam Burrington

$106,013 given of $100,000 goal

Let's bring Sam home!

Started by: Linda Plazonja

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Our son Sam, BHS '13, broke his back in a skiing accident in Utah on Feb 23. He is now in treatment at Spaulding Rehab. He’ll never walk again, but boy, will he roll!

Over the next several months, we'll renovate an apartment in our house to make it accessible. We're looking for temporary housing options, maybe a short stay at Homewood Suites or an accessible apartment.

Thank you, dear friends, for your love & support for Sam. For 30 years, Brookline has been home. Now we know what that REALLY means!

Abby Swaine and Steve Burrington

Latest Update

Dear Friends, less frequent updates doesn't mean less is happening! We’ve been even busier since Sam's return to Brookline than the Spaulding pros warned. Organizing personal care routines...getting to outpatient appointments...taking delivery of equipment such as the new standing frame you see here...and seizing the day! Since taking up residence on Walnut St, Sam has: --Watched the Marathon in Coolidge Corner with his girlfriend Emma and wheeled all the way home. --Wheeled to/from Schick Park to hunt Easter Eggs. --Dined at Barcelona Wine Bar in Washington Square, twice. --Tried 3 hand cycles at an expo at UNH Durham. --Wheeled with a new fellow para friend down Walnut Path (steep!) and across Route 9 to have dinner at Pomodoro. --Hosted a friend's birthday party. --Heard a concert at Paradise Rock Club. --Taken his first on-road driving lesson with hand controls. --Lunched at Rifrullo. All this despite handling some new physical challenges as he continues to heal. GO, SAM!

Posted by Linda

April 25 at 1:57pm

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All went as planned— Sam and Ben have been reunited in Brookline! The house we’re renting on Walnut St is just a five minute walk from ours, and its owners are wonderful. A kind and skilled neighbor added a sturdy ramp so Sam can get in and out easily. Sam wheeled down the block and had his first haircut at iToo and his first grocery shop at Kurkman’s. Work has begun in earnest on making Sam’s apartment in our house accessible. (Please keep your eyes out and ears open for another accessible 2+ bedroom temporary space for Sam and Ben for the last months of our renovation— August and September.) Next week, outpatient rehab and many other efforts to increase Sam’s independence (like driving) begin. We don’t know what we would have done without your wishes, dishes and gifts throughout these past six weeks of huge change, and look forward to thanking many of you in person as we soldier forward! With love, Abby, Steve and Sam

Posted by Linda

April 14 at 7:24pm

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Lynn Ware Peek — 1 week ago

Oh Sam! You have worked so hard and you're now (almost) home! This makes me so happy to see and it's great to see Ben there with you. Hope you two have a blast in your new temporary digs. I'm sure many stories will be forthcoming. Can't believe it's been six weeks. Feels like an eternity in some ways, then I see how far you have come and you've done it all so quickly. Much love from Lynn and Bob.

Toni Lansbury — 1 week ago

Welcome home, Sam! Hope to see you in the hood. Keep crushing it. You’re amazing. Xo

Today’s photo is like the New Yorker cartoon caption contest: what’s happening here? Right answers include: 1) Sam is practicing kneeling, which is pretty challenging when you can’t feel or move below your chest; 2) Sam is managing to “shake his booty” while kneeling, amazing his PT Trina; and 3) both are feeling the miraculous bond that develops between a devoted therapist and the patient she inspires. If any of you, dear friends of Sam, are in a position to leverage corporate giving toward Spaulding, you would be investing in sharing this unmatched hope and energy with others from all walks of life. https://spauldingrehab.org/giving

Posted by Linda

April 10 at 10:14pm

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“Dear All, if all goes as planned, on Thursday Sam will arrive on Walnut St—his home-near-home until the end of July! Roommate Ben is almost moved in already. Frankly, the transition from the superbly all-inclusive environment of Spaulding to outpatient status is a bit scary for us parents, but thanks to your generosity we’ll be just a 4 minute walk away should Sam need help! Demolition has already started in Sam’s and Ben’s apartment on Emerson St. Last week we had a marvelous outing on recumbent bikes with Sam and therapists along the harbor walk in Charlestown— so freeing for Sam to roll with such ease!”

Posted by Linda

April 7 at 8:00pm

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Lynn Ware Peek — 2 weeks ago

Such great news! Sam, the biking looks like fun and so liberating. Can't believe you're moving home so quickly! You've done amazing work at Spaulding and boy are they going to miss you!

Today’s action photo illustrates that Sam’s longtime skill at catching and throwing balls is actually therapeutic. When you have control of your arms and chest, but not your abdomen and points south, you have to learn how to stack your weight from your shoulders to your hips. Catching and throwing a ball teaches you to deploy your remaining muscle control and range in a way that doesn’t exceed your ability to remain balanced. This has all kinds of practical applications, like reaching for objects without tipping over or dropping them. Sam is learning a new body awareness and skill that builds on his lifelong athleticism!

Posted by Linda

April 4 at 2:31pm

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Now this was an eye-opener: manual wheelchair users get trained on how to get back upright in their chairs, and off the ground back into their chairs, if they fall! It makes sense when you think of all the uneven terrain they encounter. Imagine hitting a pothole or big crack in the pavement with a small front caster on your wheelchair, instead of a big soft car tire! So today's action photo shows Sam beginning to learn how to haul himself forward from a flat-on-his-back position. Afterward he was so tired he almost fell asleep over dinner.

Posted by Linda

April 2 at 11:07am

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An update: Another Friday, another milestone: the abdominal brace (aka The Carapace) came off! Now Sam can bend more as he reaches for important places like his feet. With freedom comes responsibility: more work on torso control for dressing, bathing, etc. Speaking of freedom, today’s action photo shows Sam trying a Free Wheel, which essentially converts a four wheel flat-earth wheelchair into a three wheel ATV. Trusty physical therapist Trina is spotting Sam as he tackles the slopes of the scenic waterfront park right outside Spaulding Charlestown’s front door.

Posted by Linda

March 30 at 2:57pm

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Lynn Ware Peek — 3 weeks ago

Very hard work there, Sam! You must be getting strong.

A message from Abby, Steve + Sam: Today’s action photo shows Sam taking his first swim in Spaulding’s pool! The relative freedom of movement is a tonic. But my main topic today is how wonderful Sam’s employer, construction management firm John Moriarty & Associates, has been to us all since that dark day when we had to tell them Sam wouldn’t be coming to work on Monday. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined how kind, generous, solicitous, open minded, and welcoming a company could be to a junior staffer facing a new disability. For us parents it’s been like discovering a long lost branch of the family that enfolds you at first sight. Dozens of visitors, cards, and amazing gifts have flowed to Sam from all parts of JMA and from the subs Sam worked with. Sam is looking forward to getting back to work at JMA in a new role!

Posted by Linda

March 28 at 1:25pm

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Lynn Ware Peek — 3 weeks ago

This is just the most heart-warming news. It's a testament to Sam, such a great kid who everyone wants to have around. I bet a Monday morning going back to work will take on new meaning. Go Sam!

Sue McSherry — 3 weeks ago

Way to go Sam!

Caroline Frite — 4 weeks ago

They say it takes a village, Abby. So happy to hear about Sam's employer positive response.

Frances Shedd-Fisher — 4 weeks ago

What an inspiring and heart-warming message from Abby, Steve and Sam!

An update from Abby, Steve + Sam: Last Friday, Sam had a long, thoughtful conversation with Travis Roy, who is welcomed as a celebrity at Spaulding (but doesn’t act like one) about the physical, logistical, and emotional challenges (and rewards) that accompany the transition from free-range athleticism to WC living. Travis’s worthy foundation benefits those with truly acute, basic needs, and research toward cures. Sam has his eye on competing in races to advance Travis’s mission— see the Team Travis page for all the ways we bipeds can compete too: https://www.travisroyfoundation.org/events/teamtrf/ And check out the new action photo of Sam working up a sweat in spin class!

Posted by Linda

March 24 at 6:05pm

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Roula Kappas — 4 weeks ago

So good to see your photos!

Lynn Ware Peek — 4 weeks ago

So great to hear! Sam, you look great - I've been waiting for photos, love to see the smile!

Frances Shedd-Fisher — 4 weeks ago

Great photo! Keep 'em coming! Love to see Sam at work, making progress.

An update from Abby + Steve: "Travis Roy is paying a visit to Sam and others this afternoon! Sam’s Occupational Therapy sessions usually focus on practicing new ways to accomplish things we’ve all taken for granted since we were small, but which are very difficult when the lower two thirds of your body is unfeeling dead weight... showering, dressing, getting into a car, etc. But sometimes OT class reviews something that’s still easy for Sam, like cooking! Our latest photo shows Sam sautéing at a pull-under cooktop like we’re going to install when we remodel his apartment."

Posted by Linda

March 22 at 12:49pm

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Toni Lansbury — 4 weeks ago

You’re probably a better cook than I am. You’re looking great, Sam! Travis Roy is one of my heroes!

A message from Abby & Steve: “Dear All, your encouragement continues to buoy us. This weekend, two college friends and old Pierce/BHS pal Vikram traveled a long way to visit Sam. Monday featured our first family meeting at Spaulding. We feel SO lucky that Sam is being treated by such a crackerjack, tightly coordinated, forward looking team. Our latest action photo shows Sam in a standing frame, which he’ll use daily even after discharge, to maintain bone, muscle, skin and cardio health. And to stare us down if we get too meddlesome.”

Posted by Linda

March 18 at 8:07pm

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A message from Abby & Steve: “From replies to the few thank-yous we’ve been able to write so far, you’re enjoying these updates, so here’s another! Not since he was an infant have we taken so many photos of Sam. Here he is practicing transferring into a mock vehicle. We hope to buy him a car outfitted with hand controls; we can finally stop regretting not teaching him to drive standard transmission. As you can see, he’s also managed to squeeze some shaving time into his busy day!”

Posted by Linda

March 15 at 12:51pm

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Betsy Shure Gross — 5 weeks ago

Hey Sam, Let us know if/when you want to row on the Charles. Gary has information he would be happy to share. BSG

Frances Shedd-Fisher — 5 weeks ago

Sam is a hard working guy! It will certainly pay off.

Frances Shedd-Fisher — 5 weeks ago

Sam is a hard working guy! It will certainly pay off.

A message from Abby & Steve - Yesterday, Spaulding’s physical therapy staff introduced Sam to Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), which zaps the muscles to make them work, even though the brain can’t tell them to. So, Sam’s legs cycled “on their own” for 45 min, maintaining muscle, bone and cardiovascular fitness. Your generosity will allow Sam to afford an FES unit for use at home to help optimize his health post-discharge!

Posted by Linda

March 13 at 10:43pm

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Lynn Ware Peek — 4 weeks ago

This is so great, Sam! We recently bought a version of one of those for lengthy plane flights and general muscle soreness. I was wondering about how it would work for you! It's pretty amazing to watch it working your muscles, isn't it?!

Betsy Shure Gross — 5 weeks ago

YEA SAM! Looking forward to seeing those pictures of you rolling around the neighborhood. Let us know when you hit High Street on your way up to Pill Hill. Guts, grace and grit...you've got plenty. Fondly. BSG

from Abby & Steve - Wonderstruck is the best word I can think of to describe how we feel about the outpouring of support you’ve demonstrated here. Sundays can be lonely in a hospital, but thanks to Sam’s good old pals, it flew by with board games and festive foods. We’re feeling the love!

Posted by Linda

March 11 at 12:19am

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Lynn Ware Peek — 4 weeks ago

Nice! Looks like Settlers of Catan? S nice you've got great friends there. Make sure you crush them in Bananagrams!

Hi. Toni Lansbury is organizing dinners for Steve and Abby. You can sign up on this link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0c4ba5ae23a0fd0-abby Continued gratitude and appreciation to each and every one of you. Linda

Posted by Linda

March 9 at 3:30pm

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Marie Green — 6 weeks ago

So wonderful to see that smile!

Dear All—Reading your notes and seeing your names makes us feel so lucky. Old classmates, good neighbors, trusty coworkers, dear friends...what a wonderful web we live in. Sam is acing exercise therapies and spreading good vibes at Spaulding—see pix! Wish we could hug you all, Abby & Steve

Posted by Linda

March 9 at 12:06pm

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537 Supporters

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  • Elizabeth Foleynow Sam, you are truly an inspiration to us all! Sending love from all the Bayers
  • Kathleen Woodward3 hours ago Go Sam!
  • Wayne Clark1 day ago Best wishes as you continue down your life path
  • Karen Jacobsen3 days ago Thinking of you all, Sam, Abby and Steve, and sending love and strength.
  • Mark Pener3 days ago Best wishes.
  • Melissa London1 week ago Sam - so great to see that picture of you out and about on your recumbent bike. Monday's marathon got me to thinking how cool it would be to watch you tackle 26.2 miles someday!
  • Anonymous1 week ago
  • Betsy Shure Gross1 week ago OK - enough Walnut Street! Where are the pictures of Sam and Ben at Leverett Pond???? BSG
  • Alice Meadows1 week ago This is such wonderful news! Welcome home Sam, and our love and best wishes to you all - now and in the coming months. We hope to see you around Brookline Village soon! Alice, Pete, and family xo
  • Frances Shedd-Fisher1 week ago Nice to see a picture of Ben, too! I heard Sam had moved into the rental on Walnut on Friday. Big step. Frankly, I can't believe how fast Sam is moving to independence. I know he is working hard, but the staff at Spaulding truly are miracle workers. Welcome to your new home, Sam!
  • Show 527 more supporters