Miami Project to Cure Paralysis

In 1985, Marc Buoniconti dislocated his neck at the third and fourth cervical vertebrae and sustained a spinal cord injury after making a tackle for the Citadel in his first game.

However, this event which left him paralyzed has not stopped him from trying to make an impact on the world.

Marc would later become the president of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, which is part of the University of Miami’s School of Medicine.

“He’s a great ambassador for what he’s done, knowing that he may not walk again, but others might,” said Kristin Wherry, director of national chapters for the Buoniconti Fund, which works in conjunction with the Miami Project to earn funds for its research.

This initiative was founded by his father Nick Buoniconti, who won two Super Bowls in 14 NFL seasons, and  Barth A. Green, the chairman of the Department for Neurological Surgery.

With Marc Buoniconti featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated August issue, the Miami Project received nationwide publicity.

“I’ve received donations from people just because they noticed the article and wanted to contribute,” said Megan Hess, the director of annual giving,

This organization’s purpose is not to treat individuals with a spinal cord injury but to research methods and procedures that will potentially lead to a cure in the future.

This is accomplished through assistance from individuals, who have experienced such injuries and are willing to participate in active studies.

As far as research is concerned, the Miami Project will have anywhere from 15-20 clinical studies transpiring at any point in time.

“What we’ll try to do is basically incorporate it all under one roof,” Maria Chagoyen, senior administrative assistant for the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, said.

They’ve made advancements in research on Traumatic Brain Injury and Schwann cell research.

When Kevin Everett, former tight end for the Miami Hurricanes and the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, suffered spinal cord injury in the first game of his second professional season this project research was utilized.

W. Dalton Dietrich, the scientific director, research with utilizing hypothermia as a treatment for SCI was relayed to Everett’s personal doctor to eventually get him to walk again.

“Knowing that you’re contributing to seeing an individual with paralysis walk again is extremely gratifying… We give them hope,” Chagoyen said.

October 21, 2009


David Furones

Senior Sports Writer

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