On June 7, 2016, three days before his 29th birthday, Matt Wetherbee suffered a significant spinal cord injury (SCI) while playing basketball, a sport he loves and has played since middle school. After his injury, Matt spent two months at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by three months at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital working on his recovery before he was able to go home.
Although he remains paralyzed below his shoulders, Matt has made huge progress since his injury. This progress was due in part to his four-times weekly therapy at Journey Forward, a non-profit facility in Canton, MA that serves clients with SCIs.
Matt launched the MW Fund when he realized how important it was for those living with SCI to have access to daily exercise and therapy. Once leaving a rehab hospital and being discharged from outpatient therapy, insurance often does not cover the cost of exercise facilities specializing in SCI (typically costing a minimum of $100 per hour). This is difficult for most to afford given the extra costs associated with SCI, which is why the sole mission of the MW Fund is to award scholarships to deserving individuals in order to offset these financial burdens.
After the accident, Matt recognized the abundance of indoor basketball courts in Massachusetts, and around the country, that are housed in facilities with inadequate square footage resulting in inadequate spacing under the basket and sidelines. These courts are surrounded by walls and/or bleachers that are too close to the boundaries, presenting a high probability for injuries. The MW Fund’s goal moving forward is to prevent similar accidents from occurring by increasing awareness of indoor court regulations and raising funds to properly rebuild those courts to meet standard safety guidelines.
Matt currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky where he is participating in epidural stimulation research at the University of Louisville. This research has resulted in many positive changes to daily life for Matt, and other participants, including the ability to stand, regulate blood pressure, move voluntarily, improvements in bowel and bladder function, and overall mental and physical health. This cutting-edge research happening in Louisville requires individuals to move to Louisville and live there for at least one year but in most cases longer. This research program does not cover living expenses, so at the start of 2020 the MW Fund began providing funding for individuals who are eligible for the research program but cannot afford these costs.