On Tuesday, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier announced he has launched a nonprofit benefiting and supporting spinal cord injury patients. It's called the Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation. The news comes three years after he suffered a spinal cord injury during a game.
Shazier was given only a 20% chance to ever walk again after the 2017 injury, but is now walking on his own. The former Steeler commented on starting a nonprofit so close to his heart:
"I'm truly excited to announce the Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation. My team and I have been working behind the scenes to find ways to continue to push forward progress for the spinal cord community. One step at a time we will change how people view spinal injuries."
I’m truly excited to announce the Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation. My team and I have been working behind the scenes to find ways to continue to push forward progress for the spinal cord community. One step at a time we will change how people view spinal injuries. pic.twitter.com/kpQtkx0KjB— Ryan Shazier (@RyanShazier) November 23, 2020
Shazier aims to help patients in the recovery process and allow them to have access to what he had access to, helping with the high costs.
The mission of the Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation is "to optimize recovery and build an empowering community for SCI patients, families and caregivers," according to the chair of the funds board of directors, William Kassling.
Shazier says his experiences have allowed him to gain a new perspective on spinal injuries.
"My injury has helped me see firsthand what the SCI community goes through every day and the inequities people face when it comes to getting the care they need. I want to be there for people who are going through similar struggles, including their caregivers and families," Shazier said, via a news release.
Kassling explained their first area of focus, saying, "More than 90% of SCI cases are caused by a sudden and unexpected traumatic event. Our initial focus will raise money to help those living with sports-related and vehicular accident injuries."
Shazier's former teammates as well as others around the league, including Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin, T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward, congratulated him on the efforts.
Big Ben said, "Congratulations! .... Wishing you & your foundation all the success in the world! #Steelers"
Tomlin said, "You fought the battle and I have so much respect for you helping others doing the same. Can't wait to see what the future holds."
You can learn more about the fund here.