Jeff Returns to the Job He Loves and a Life More Fulfilled
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. In celebration, we share a story to demonstrate how your support helps people with spinal cord injury, like Jeff McMullen, live fuller, more engaged lives through employment.
“What are your goals?” asked Jeff McMullen’s physical therapists. Jeff had no idea what his goals were or what he could hope to accomplish after a spinal cord injury left him unable to stand or walk. Before his injury, Jeff enjoyed working with visually impaired individuals and training Seeing Eye® dogs, but the job was physical. “My work required many hours of standing, walking, and practicing street traffic scenarios,” says Jeff. “I never imagined I’d be able to return.”
In time, Jeff strengthened his legs, stood up, and walked again, but it wasn’t until he worked with a therapy dog in rehabilitation did he realize his true goal. “Interacting with the dog was like coming home, igniting my desire to get back to my job.”
Jeff received vocational rehabilitation counseling as part of a unique Kessler Foundation research study to improve chronically low employment rates after SCI. Adria DeSimone, MS, CRC, LAC, and vocational resource facilitator at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, paved the way for Jeff’s return to employment at The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ. She visited his workplace and saw firsthand the physicality of the job. With this knowledge, she helped Jeff’s physical therapists design a training plan to simulate his work activities.
“Adria was the lifesaving bridge between my physical therapy team and my employer, and my inspiration,” says Jeff. “Thanks to Adria, my therapists, and donors like you, I’ve returned to the job I love and a life more fulfilled.”