To empower, to overcome

By Steve McConnell
Posted 6/20/07

MAGNOLIA SPRINGS – The Back to Back Foundation, a budding non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with spinal cord injuries, will hold its first fundraiser at Jesse’s Restaurant, Magnolia Springs, on Friday beginning at 6 …

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To empower, to overcome

Posted

MAGNOLIA SPRINGS – The Back to Back Foundation, a budding non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with spinal cord injuries, will hold its first fundraiser at Jesse’s Restaurant, Magnolia Springs, on Friday beginning at 6 p.m.

The charitable foundation was initiated by Karen Kuykendall Smith, 35, who sustained a spinal cord injury nearly two years ago, after falling from a barn loft, near the Barnwell community, outside Fairhope.

Taking care of her horses as usual, a lifelong love and hobby, Smith had just finished bailing hay from the loft and was about to turn out some lights when she fell.

Anna Baysden, a close-friend of Smith’s and a financial officer with the foundation, said that a neighbor heard a noise, called out to Smith, but she did not respond.

She was immediately life-flighted to the University of South Alabama Medical Center.

Smith does not remember how she fell, Baysden said, and soon thereafter, doctors determined that she may not be able to walk again since the accident severed spinal connections.

Moments after learning this, Baysden recalled Smith saying: “I guess God has a reason for that and I’m going to find out what it is.”

Although she uses a wheelchair to this day, Baysden said that Smith was recently reevaluated at a medical facility in Denver, and cleared to ride horses again.

And, in the meantime, Smith is determined to help others in similar circumstances with her foundation.

Officially formed June 1, Back to Back was “created to empower individuals with spinal cord injuries in leading meaningful and purposeful lives,” Baysden said.

She said that once the foundation has operating funds, they will provide supportive items including wheelchairs and parts such as batteries (which can cost up to $400, she noted) along with lifts and ramps.

The fundraiser at Jesse’s will also include wine tasting, live entertainment and a silent auction.

Jesse’s Restaurant is located on Oak Road, off U.S. 98, County Road 49 South.