Sen. Jeff Hayden introduces spinal cord injury research bill

Photo: Tony Nelson, City Pages.
The $4 million would go toward curative spinal cord research in Minnesota.
Sen. Jeff Hayden introduced a bill at a capitol press conference this afternoon that would appropriate $4 million in state funds to be used for curative spinal cord research in Minnesota.

The subject of this week's cover story, the bill was inspired by the story of Gabe Rodreick, a 20-year-old from south Minneapolis who suffered a devastating spinal cord injury while body surfing in Costa Rica. The bill is named after Rodreick and Jack Jablonski, a Benilde-St. Maraget's student injured during a hockey game a year ago.

"I used to be a piano player," said Rodreick at the press conference. "To be able to play piano again would be a dream."

Sen. Hayden believes the money could come from the state's general fund.
Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, recognized that finding the money won't be easy, given the state's projected $1.1 billion deficit.

He believes the money could be appropriated from the general fund, he said, but admitted the strategy could change. "There's money out there," he said.

Gabe's father, Matthew Rodreick, originally brought the idea to Hayden in 2011. With Matthew's help, Hayden introduced another version of the bill last session. The earlier bill would have taken a surcharge out of DUIs in Minnesota to be used toward curative research, but the measure failed.

Matthew is gathering signatures for a petition to support the bill on his blog. He also created a documentary about spinal cord injuries starring Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who spent a day in a wheelchair last October. The movie will premiere at Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis Thursday evening.

For more information on the Rodreicks or the research the money could fund, read this week's cover, "Stalking the Blue Demon: Inside the U of M research that could one day allow quadriplegics to walk again."

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