A Wheelchair user weight control study grant proposal from The Northeast Ohio Chapter was picked up by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation last year and awarded $30,000 over the course of one year.
The chapter’s success is a testament to the importance of persistence and savvy when trying to secure prestigious grants.
The chapter’s pursuit of the Neilsen grant began in 2013 when it submitted a proposal called “Weight Management in a Wheelchair.” The Neilsen Foundation, which is dedicated to funding endeavors that improve the lives of people with spinal cord injuries, selected the proposal as one of its annual Quality of Life award recipients but decided not to fund it. Undeterred, the chapter resubmitted the proposal in 2015 after adding a series of medical components they thought might sway the grant selectors.
“We added language that would get doctors, nurses, therapists and dieticians involved in wheelchair user weight control, monitoring blood and glucose levels and other medical results,” says chapter member Jeff Schiemann. “The premise of the new grant was that the doctors and the therapists would learn and benefit just as much as the participants were benefitting from it.”
It worked. “With that they picked up the grant,” says Schiemann, and Weight Management in a Wheelchair became a reality.
With grant in hand, the chapter purchased ergometers, free weights, therapy bands and other miscellaneous equipment, selected 10 participants for the study and got to getting fit. Participants each received log books to track their activity and diet and signed up for an application called Lose It! that helps users keep track of calories and exercise. The program started off with a series of lectures relevant to weight loss, presented by experts in the fields. The lectures were open to anyone who was interested.
Schiemann says he is excited to see how the program goes over the next year. He also encouraged other grant seekers to keep pursuing their dreams, even if they have been rejected. “If you have an idea that you like and think will work, it’s just a question of getting it right in the eyes of the grantors,” he says.