Spinal Cord Injury – Finding the Missing Links

In 2004, just six months after her father retired from the University of Northern Iowa, life changed forever for Scottsdale resident Lisa Henry Holmes. She received news that her parents had been in a tragic motorcycle accident. Her mother, Karen, suffered minor injuries, but Lisa’s father was not so fortunate. Glen was left a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down. The physically active man who had spent 38 years coaching college football, swimming and diving at UNI was now destined to live in a wheelchair, the result of an accident that nearly ended his life. For many, these circumstances  would be life-ending, but not for “The Bullet.” He took on the mightiest challenge of his life.    


Statistics can be cold, startling and impersonal. A study by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation found there are nearly six million people living with paralysis from spinal cord injuries today. That number is 33 percent higher than once originally thought. With nearly one in 50 people in this country alone living with some form of paralysis, chances are most people know someone living and dealing with the condition. 


It is a way of living that comes at a dear cost, which is not only emotionally and physically heart-wrenching but expensive as well. The average cost of living with a spinal cord injury in the first year alone ranges from $230,000 to $775,000. 


These are very real, heart-tugging, personal statistics for Holmes, who serves on the board of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and works tirelessly to enhance the lives of those challenged by paralysis.


Lisa is a wife, mother and founder of WHO! International, a consumer product manufacturer and international distribution company, moving popular product lines to global retail outlets like Crate & Barrel, Total Wine, Dillard’s, Nordstrom and Cost Plus World Market. Gregg Holmes , her husband of 14 years, is a noted Valley executive who serves today as vice president of operations of the Valley of the Sun YMCA and senior executive director of the Desert Foothills Family YMCA. 


In the eight years since the accident, Glen has endured daily, grueling hours of rehabilitation, but like his daughter, when he’s focused on a goal, he is a force to be reckoned with. Despite the overwhelming trials this lifestyle brings, he remains unwavering in his resolve to one day regain his independence. While his body struggles, his mind is as sharp as ever and always percolating with ideas.


Entrepreneurship and philanthropy are family traits. In 2008 with Lisa’s help, Coach Henry reintroduced his revolutionary Box Seat. Having worked decades in the spectator sports industry, Glen realized there was a need to improve fan seating comfort. He devised a portable seat that is both easily toted and environmentally friendly. Coupled with Lisa’s marketing skills, the Box Seat has become a must-have for soccer moms, parade-goers, tailgaters and more with net proceeds generously benefiting the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.      


Help find a cure

Life can change on a dime. You never know when or how paralysis may afflict the next victim – and that person might be you or someone you love. You can support the fight for a cure for spinal cord injuries and paralysis by attending the celebrity fashion spectacle Noir Partie Trois: Espionage En Couture, Oct. 26, at the Scottsdale AirCenter, to benefit the Reeve Foundation and the Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association. This couture runway event is the first of a 10-city tour which showcases the Spring 2013 line of designer Furne One of Dubai, who dresses the likes of Heidi Klum, Katie Perry, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez and others. One will present his collection in person.


At top: Lisa Henry Holmes with her husband, Gregg, and their son, Jackson




Text by Maryfrances Krumwiede, FleurComGroup

Photo courtesy of the Holmes family

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