And the organization has recognized the need to broaden its focus to incorporate the community it represents. The theme of its 2006 annual report was “It’s Up to Us.” That and its “Go Forward” slogan are just two examples of messaging that strives to empower both staff and constituents. As part of that theme, the foundation is taking steps to involve the community more. One way it’s doing that is by continuing to share its story.
“One of the initial questions that we got was who was going to be the face of this foundation. Who was going to take over? But we felt that this was an important moment for our community and our constituency,” Wilderotter says. “We have an obligation and an opportunity. Chris left us everything, in his legacy, in his words. One of the first things you see when you walk into our office is his wheelchair, and so the substance is there.
“But it’s really up to us and what we want to do. There are dozens if not hundreds, if not thousands, of heroic stories of people who have been injured or families who are taking care of those living with paralysis,” he adds. “What we want to do is to tell that story, to tell our research story, to tell our quality-of-life story and, under the overarching theme of ‘It’s Up to Us,’ to carry on what this person and actually the original founders of this foundation, the Stifel family, set forth.”