On September 5th, 2011, Rich was enjoying a beautiful day on the Stanislaus River with friends. In a moment that changed his life forever, Rich lost his footing, slid headfirst down a rock embankment, and over a 15-foot ledge. He landed behind a turbulent waterfall.
After being airlifted to the closest hospital, Rich learned the full extent of his injuries. His back was broken and dislocated, leaving him completely paralyzed below the waist. Rich was diagnosed as Complete T7 Asia “A,” which meant he had no sensation or movement below his injury.
Almost immediately after his accident, Rich became Patient No. 4 in California’s first-ever human pluripotent stem cell clinical trial: the Geron Trial. Rich wants people to hear his story of being in the wrong place at the right time and tell people what a cure would mean to him. Rich is a strong believer in the power of stem cells and, as an Americans for Cures Ambassador, is a committed advocate of stem cell research. Americans for Cures is proud to have Rich as a Patient Advocate Ambassador as we continue on our mission to update the public on the remarkable progress in stem cell research since the passage of Prop 71, California’s $3 billion investment in stem cell research and therapy development.