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Injured Alum Holds Fundraiser

Dale Ahn, BC ’11, Works To Spread Awareness For Spinal Injuries

Heights Editor

Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

On Dec. 8, a fundraiser will be held for Dale Ahn, BC ’12, who suffered a severe C5 cervical spinal cord injury in 2011. The fundraiser, “Stand Up for a Cure,” will be held in Libation, a bar and restaurant in New York City. Money raised by the fundraiser will go toward Ahn’s Supplemental Needs Trust, a fund established to offset the costs of Ahn’s rehabilitation and long-term care. The estimated costs of living with a cervical spinal cord injury amount to $712,308 in the first year, followed by $105,013 each subsequent year. The Ahn family hopes that the “Stand Up for a Cure” fundraiser will help supplement these demanding expenses.

“I hope for all who attend, to have a great time as it will be a comedy show,” Ahn said in an email. “More importantly, I hope everyone goes home with a little more awareness and knowledge of spinal cord injuries and the many lives affected by it. In regards to the Trust Fund, I hope to raise enough so that my family and I won’t have to worry about the expansive costs of living with SCI [spinal cord injury]. After all, I lived in a nursing home for six months after my discharge from Mount Sinai Hospital because it was logistically and financially impossible for me to move back home at the time.”
After Ahn’s accident, the BC alum was taken to North Shore Long Island Jewish Huntington Hospital in Long Island, N.Y., where he underwent multiple surgeries. Against staggering odds, Ahn survived the injury. He spent a month in the ICU and was then transferred to Mount Sinai, an acute spinal cord injury rehabilitation center, for extensive rehabilitation. After two months, Ahn was discharged to New Franklin Center, a sub-acute rehabilitation center in Queens, N.Y.

“The first few weeks were pretty much a blur to me,” Ahn said. “My mind and body were in a state of shock due to my injury, not to mention pneumonia too. However, I do remember that my family was by my side day and night. Fortunately for me, that hasn’t changed. But because of the extent of my injury and some further complications, I stayed at the hospital in the intensive care unit (ICU) for a month. And today, over a year later, I am happily living back home in Queens, N.Y. I am still rehabbing, but only twice a week for physical therapy, at the NYU Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine.”
Ahn is now a quadriplegic. Although he struggles to complete once simple, automatic tasks, he remains the same cheerful, unflappable person his BC friends know and love.

“As one would expect, paralysis, more specifically quadriplegia, is a life altering experience,” Ahn said. “I have a good support network of friends and family, which helps keep my spirits high. But nonetheless, my life has become much more of a struggle. There’s the saying, ‘Don’t take life for granted.’ Today, there are some aspects of life that I actually can no longer take for granted. But don’t get me wrong, I’m still looking at the ‘glass half-full,’ to continue the theme of corny cliches.”
As a college student, Ahn was an active member of the BC community. He majored in economics, worked at the nonprofit organization Haley House and Corner Bakery, and raised more than $34,000 for the Boston College Fund and Flynn Fund at the BC Phonecenter. Since graduation, he has remained close with his BC friends, and they have played an active role in his recovery. Since his injury, Ahn, his family, and friends have turned to his alma mater for help and support. They hope to raise enough funds for the trust to cover costs not paid for by insurance. The money raised will allow Ahn to attend adequate physical therapy programs, receive long-term care and have access to the necessary medical equipment required for his daily life. His family and friends also hope to raise money for spinal cord injury research so that Ahn and others suffering from paralysis can benefit from scientific advancements.

Over a year has passed since Ahn’s accident, and he has made tremendous strides. Ahn has regained some strength and mobility in his arms, as well as improved his respiratory function, shoulder function, bicep function, and balance. He remains hopeful for the future and advises BC students to do the same.

“My advice to current students would be to always have patience and hope,” Ahn said. “I struggle with patience, not only in my rehab and road to recovery, but in my everyday life. If something you desire doesn’t come along as quickly as you would like, don’t lose hope. Maybe even more tragic than my injury is that I’m a [New York] Mets fan. One of my favorite quotes is from Mets pitcher, R.A. Dickey: ‘Never abandon hope.’ So always have patience and never abandon hope! Yes, Superfans, even in regards to the BC football team.”

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