After a serious car accident rendered him a tetraplegic, Mr. Andre Senecal decided to establish a foundation in his name in 1994, which would later become the Foundation for Spinal Cord Research in 2002. A successful businessman whose hobbies included golf and tennis, he found himself suddenly confronted with the harsh reality of being confined to a wheelchair. Rather than feeling sorry for himself, he realized that thousands of others were in the same situation in Quebec and he chose to channel his energies to help them by setting up a non-profit organization dedicated to funding spinal cord research.
Through the 90s, the foundation funded research on the understanding and prevention of spinal cord injuries, on establishing a profile of people living with a spinal cord injury in Quebec, and on the rehabilitation of a spinal cord injury through locomotor training on a treadmill. Christopher Reeve, the famous actor who played Superman on the big screen before suffering a severe spinal cord injury that made him a tetraplegic, was among the first to experience this form of rehabilitation.
In 2002, the Foundation for Spinal Cord Research launched its first major fundraising campaign. During the years that followed, it helped fund a research project on the synergistic effect of drugs on locomotor recovery, financed the adaptation of two workstations for paraplegics and quadriplegics (one at UQAM, the other at UQTR), contributed to the translation of practical materials for spinal cord injury and supported the creation of two clinical research units focusing on spinal cord injury; one for adults at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the other for children at the Shriner’s Hospital for Children, which is a partner of the MUHC.
In 2010, the Foundation for Spinal Cord Research joined forces with the Quebec Paraplegic Association and became MEMO-Qc. Besides its work in supporting scientific research and outreach, the organization now operates in the fields of social and professional integration and advocacy for people with spinal cord injuries.
By raising funds, the Foundation seeks to support projects focused on repairing the spinal cord injury, improving the quality of life of people with spinal cord injuries, and the prevention of spinal cord injuries. To achieve these goals, MEMO-Qc favors the following core values: accessibility, transparency, respect, partnership with other like-minded associations, innovation, teamwork, self-transcendence and engagement.
Since its inception, the Foundation has provided MEMO-Que with hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to support projects aimed at improving the lives of people with spinal cord injuries. We hope that one day researchers will find a cure that will help people with spinal cord injuries regain their mobility.