Matthew Rodreick

Marilyn is introducing Matthew, who arrived at his first w2w a few years ago, shortly after his son was injured. He’s the u2fp outreach coordinator and has begun his own foundation called GetUpStandup2Cure (

(he’s a sweet person. Also has the most amazing dreadlocks)

Now you guys are going to find out who the dirty hippy is who’s been wandering around here. Okay, there used to be a time when I looked more like Murray (who is a about as straight-laced as you could be). Turns out that he promised his son that he wouldn’t cut his hair until the kid stood up. Silly, naive, goofy, but I promised, so there you go.

This will be my 5th conference. For some of you this will be the first one . . . I remember that it was sobering. Crap. Still so much to do. Not there yet. I want to talk to you about what to do when you go home. It’s not obvious.

He’s using this cool prezi presentation software that’s such a giant improvement over powerpoint, oh man. Check it.

He rides his bike to and from work, 11 miles along a paved path, no traffic. It’s often busy. So there’s a place where it crosses the railroad tracks . . . and so he’s thinking of this big freight train as The Science. A giant freight train that doesn’t respond at all to a guy on his bike who has to sit there and wait and watch it go by. He says that we have more capability than we imagine . . . we have the capability to move people.

We’re on our 4th year of trying to pass a bill to to get sci research funded. We’re just some people without power and money .  . have to rely on our gifts. One of mine is that I know how to make movies. I made a movie about this football player named Chris Kluwe, who humored me and helped me by spending a day in a wheelchair. I was hoping for a kind of capacity out of that experience — that I would be able to get the bill passed because of that movie.

What it did instead was draw attention to the community and begin the process of this not being just about me but about being about all of us. It took a lot of time to convince folks that this was worth doing and worth putting some time into. There are some people here from MN, and I’m so happy because they’ll go home and mobilize too. It won’t just be me, a dad who refuses to accept that his son is paralyzed, which is something I take some grief for.

So I think there’s 3 critical pieces. One is Capacity. One is Leadership. One is Vision. Sometimes people talk about how we’re trying to mobilize a community that’s been very disempowered. Not just physically, but emotionally and psychologically. I know folks who got hurt while doing something stupid — while drunk or whatever. For them there’s an extra barrier to becoming an advocate. And then there’s the logistics barrier. Lots of times people just can’t even show up. Not their fault, usually.

Before my son’s injury I managed an ER for about 10 yrs at a local hospital. I was always trying to get the structure flipped, so that the CEO was on the bottom of the food chain instead of on the top. Vision . . . it’s the ability to see both the forest and the trees. It requires some imagination. I think there’s this really interesting thing . . . you know the care vs. cure debate? I think it’s a lack of imagination. Life is a tapestry, so whatever happened yesterday gets woven into today, and today into tomorrow. It’s a ridiculous notion to say that there’s a tension between them.

Image of his son singing in his rock band as a c5 quad.

My proposition to you is that I want to build a grassroots network. Working 2 Walk is a great conference . . . but there’s an opportunity that hasn’t been answered. What does u2fp do about that? My idea is that I want to replicate my own experience with other people. Showing an image from one of my favorite movies, How to Survive a Plague. (Please watch! It’s on Netflix, and it’s the story of a community that got to work and saved itself.)

His invitation is to pick one of 4 things: Public Policy, Fundraising, Awareness-raising Event/Campaign, Researcher Connection. This is the challenge.

We can build capacity together. Come see me. Let’s meet as a group, virtually. I’ll provide guidance, together with some people who have already committed to making this happen. I think we can do this and get from a local level to a national level. We can use the bike path and get ourselves into a position where we can influence that freight train.

Come talk to me, please.


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