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From Healing to Helping - One Patient's Story

Charlie Cole

Charlie Cole makes things happen. As a retired bank executive and active member of the Charleston community, Charlie is a leader with a long track record of being engaged in organizations and causes he cares about. His positive, can-do spirit has bolstered many boards and committees, including the Roper St. Francis Foundation Board of Trustees. He’s a man on the go, or was, until an ill-fated fall down the stairs in 2008 left him with a devastating spinal cord injury.

After three surgeries at MUSC followed by five months of rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Charlie returned home to Sullivan’s Island and continues to make encouraging progress – he is regaining some arm and hand mobility, and, with help, can walk using a platform. “I’ve been fortunate to have such incredible care, both at MUSC and at Roper St. Francis,” he says. But to a man like Charlie Cole, regaining his own strength and relearning muscle coordination is only part of his concern. Making sure that others less fortunate have access to the high quality care and resources he has benefited from is also critical. This is where his passion is far from paralyzed.

“Sitting in a wheelchair, immobilized, I’ve had a lot of time to think, a lot of time to reflect on ‘what can I do with this?” Cole says. “The only thing I can do is to find a way to help other people who have similar injuries. This clinic represents a dream and a vision that these two hospital communities can collaborate for the common
good of spinal cord injury patients.” Through their determination and generosity, Charlie and Joanne Cole have helped establish the Center for Spinal Cord Injury. Their ongoing personal journey and their enthusiastic support offers hope and inspiration to patients and caregivers alike.