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Past News

 February 8, 2021                                                           


ROCHESTER, NY – The Rochester Spinal Association (RSA) is proud to announce that it has been awarded $22,715 as part of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation National Paralysis Resource Center (PRC) 2020 COVID-19: Addressing Social Isolation Quality of Life grants. Eleven grants totaling $314,200 were awarded. The Quality of Life Grants Program supports nonprofit organizations that empower individuals living with paralysis. Since the Quality of Life Grants Program’s inception, more than 3,300 grants totaling over $32 million have been awarded. Funding for this new pilot program was made possible through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living (ACL grant #90PRRC0002-03-00).

With its grant funds, RSA plans several programs to assist people with spinal cord injuries and similar disabilities to overcome isolation and maintain their health during the ongoing pandemic. These programs include:

  • iPad loans for people isolated in hospitals and nursing facilities,

  • Adapted video game controller loan for quadriplegics wanting to try video gaming,

  • Three-month trial for online exercise program for people with physical disabilities,

  • Adapted kayak and hand-cycling passes during the spring and summer, and

  • Launching a family member / caregiver support group.

Interested individual with spinal cord disabilities are encouraged to contact RSA at 585-234-3269 or

“Much of the research indicates that social isolation has had the number one negative impact on the lives of people living with disabilities relative to the COVID-19 pandemic and shows that social isolation and loneliness are linked to many physical and mental health problems,” said Mark Bogosian, Director, Quality of Life Grants Program, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “The Reeve Foundation believes that this is a pioneering program and was impressed – if not downright awestruck – by the innovative and creative responses that these organizations presented in their awarded projects. These projects will truly make a considerable difference in the lives of people living with paralysis, their families, and their caretakers.”


“RSA is honored to receive these funds and excited to put them to work in our community,” said Amy Scaramuzzino, Board president of RSA. “I know firsthand how hard this pandemic has been for people with spinal cord injuries and I know it has been worse for many others. We are proud to be able to help people connect and stay social, even if they cannot get together.”


About the Reeve Foundation:

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for individuals and families impacted by paralysis. By uniting the brightest minds in the field, we are working tirelessly to accelerate scientific discovery across the field of spinal cord research by investing in labs across the globe. Additionally, through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living, the Reeve Foundation’s national Paralysis Resource Center (PRC) promotes the health, well-being, and independence of people living with paralysis, providing comprehensive information, resources, and referral services assisting over 100,000 individuals and families since its launch in 2002. The Reeve Foundation is committed to elevating our community’s voices and needs to achieve greater representation and independence. We meet all 20 of the Better Business Bureau’s standards for charity accountability and hold the BBB’s Charity Seal.  For more information, please visit our website at or call 800-225-0292.


The Rochester Spinal Association is dedicated to improving the quality of life of all individuals living with spinal cord injuries / disabilities in the Greater Rochester area. For more information regarding RSA, please visit our website at or call us at 585-234-3269.


RSA's programs are made possible throughout the year by the generosity of our donors and business sponsors, including Mission Health and Home.

June 15, 2019 

Rochester Spinal Association names organization’s first Executive Director

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Spinal association today announced that it has selected Chris Hilderbrant to be the first Executive Director in the organization’s nearly 30-year history. 


Founded in 1991, the Rochester Spinal Association (RSA) was created by people with spinal cord disabilities, their family members, and healthcare professionals in order to meet the non-medical needs experienced by people living with spinal cord disabilities.  Throughout its history, RSA has evolved to meet the changing needs of the community.  Always at the core of its mission has been peer-based support to people with spinal cord disabilities, especially those who are recently in need. 


Chris Hilderbrant has been both a recipient and a provider of those peer support services.  In 1990, at 14 years of age, Hilderbrant fractured his 6th cervical vertebra and damaged his spinal cord in a diving accident.  Since that time, Hilderbrant has been an advocate for himself and others with disabilities, working for nearly 15 years at the Center for Disability Rights and several years at Common Ground Health.  In 2016, Hilderbrant established his own consulting business, focusing on proactively assisting businesses to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and in 2013 he co-founded the WNY Wreckers, upstate NY’s only wheelchair rugby team.  He is also on the adjunct faculty at Monroe Community College.


“We are excited to write the next chapter in RSA’s history,” said John Casey, Chairman of the RSA Board.  “We have greatly enhanced our fundraising and the overall professionalism of the organization, now, with Chris, we are ready to reach out and do more for individuals and the community.”


RSA’s recent fundraising successes have enabled the organization to award grants to individuals living with spinal cord disabilities who need assistance with affording home and vehicle modifications, medical equipment, and other items important for improved quality of life.  RSA was awarded a grant through the Craig H. Nielsen Foundation to foster health and wellness activities for people living with spinal cord injury and also for their caregivers. 


“I’m thrilled to take on this role with an organization I have been part of for nearly 30 years,” said Hilderbrant.  “There is a great deal of need in our community and the Rochester Spinal Association is ready to expand to meet that need.”


People in need of support to enhance their quality of life with a spinal cord disability can contact the Rochester Spinal Association at 585-234-3269 or by emailing  For more information regarding RSA, please visit

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