Cure Medical Founder Bob Yant Spearheads SCI Research Efforts Worldwide
Did you know that Cure Medical donates 10% of net income to spinal cord research? Many have heard about Cure Medical’s ongoing commitment to SCI research and scientific advancements, but most don’t realize that the company’s commitment runs from the top down within the organization. Even fewer know that Cure Medical is the ONLY catheter manufacturer that donates 10% of net income to SCI research.
To understand why that’s the case, you first need to get to know Cure Medical’s CEO Bob Yant. Yant is a spinal cord injury survivor himself, and his personal story of recovery and success after SCI is unparalleled in the world of intermittent catheter manufacturing. The interview below is an excerpt from John E. Phillips’ book, Courage: Stories of Hometown Heroes.
Bob Yant Shares His Story as Hope & Encouragement for Others Who Have SCI
“I was raised in northern California, but knew that there was something better out there for me. I had always loved the idea of life in southern California, so I decided to move there and work in the real estate business. I thought it was a great idea because real estate in southern California was booming.”
“I moved to Orange County in 1980 when the county was still developing and growing. I lived in Newport Beach, about 60 miles south of Los Angeles. I moved to the Balboa Peninsula area to be near one of my college friends, but discovered how charming it was. On one side of the peninsula is a sparkling ocean, and on the other side is one of the largest commercial harbors on the west coast. It was absolutely beautiful.”
“In 1982, I had a few friends come visit me. We were walking along the boardwalk, and I decided that I wanted to take a quick dip in the water. I dove in, thinking it was about six feet deep. I didn’t realize was what used to be six feet of water was now only six inches. On that particular day, the ocean was like a lake. There were no waves–the water just lapped calmly against the shore.”
“I remember right after I dove, I heard a loud thud. I somehow ended up on my back, lifelessly floating underwater. I could see blurry images of the sun and sky staring back at me through the water. I think I was in shock. I finally tried to move, but I couldn’t. I remember my arms felt very limp like little flippers, but I think that was just a sensory feeling because I could not move any part of my body. Thoughts were racing through my head—“I could drown. I am underwater and I cannot move”.
“Suddenly, I heard one of my friends calling my name. I remember I saw the cowboy boots he was wearing coming straight toward me under the water. All I could think about was, “What is happening to me?”
“The calm lapping of the waves had caused very shallow sandbars that were not visible. That summer, for about a 30 mile stretch of beach, more people suffered broken necks than ever before. I couldn’t believe one of those people was me.”
Bob Yant Strives To Find A Cure For Those With Spinal Cord Injuries
Although Bob Yant has personally experienced a drastic loss in body function due to his C5 spinal cord injury, he believes that enough hard work and research can lead to a cure for spinal cord injuries. He seeks an ultimate cure that will restore all function due to severe injury and damage.
Yant says, “The first year of living with my injury was extremely difficult. It is not easy to come back into the real world and live in a new and different body. Coping with my paralysis was very tough and I had to mentally build myself up. It took me about a year to effectively cope with my situation. I’m very fortunate to have such a wonderful support system.”
Bob’s dream is to find a way to restore a damaged spinal cord back to its original condition.
“Once I felt mentally able, I worked for non-profit organizations that dealt with spinal cord injuries. When I was in the hospital, I read an article about electrically stimulating the nerves in the peripheral nervous system, and how it allowed those with serious spinal cord injuries to walk. Scientists aren’t researching this much anymore, but at the time, they used crude computers to orchestrate the stimulation of peripheral nerve muscles.”
“The main researcher behind this was Jerrold Petrofsky. Nan Davis was the first person who stood up from her wheelchair to walk when her nerve muscles were stimulated. However, the ability to walk was not permanent. When the demonstration ended, Nan would sit back down and return to her life in a wheelchair.”
“I was enthralled with Petrofsky’s research, which led me to my interest in nerve regeneration studies. My dream is to one day develop a method to regenerate the damaged spinal cord and restore it—that way, we can perform the everyday tasks we used to do before the injury.”
“In the early 1980s, several small organizations around the country were raising money for spinal cord research. They came together and formed the American Paralysis Association, which caught my eye. I immediately became a volunteer and was excited to see where this opportunity would lead me.”
Bob Yant Joins the Board of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
Yant has never given-up on the idea that one day there’ll be a cure for spinal cord injuries. He works toward raising money and providing help for researchers, as he helps them seek an ultimate cure that will restore all physical functions to all individuals who have spinal cord injuries around the world.
Yant explains, “As I learned more about the non-profit organizations attempting to raise money for spinal-cord research, I called a lady named Michelle Alioto whose 19-year-old daughter had sustained a skiing injury a couple of years after my accident. I told Mrs. Alioto that I was interested in raising money for spinal-cord research. I set a personal goal to try and raise $25,000 that first year. I never considered the possibility of raising more money than that.”
“In less than a year, Mrs. Alioto called and asked me, “How would you like to be on the national board of directors of the American Paralysis Association?” Even though this was a volunteer position, of course I was thrilled. Michelle was very charismatic lady, so I jumped at the opportunity to join the board of directors. The American Paralysis Association evolved into the Christopher Reeve Association, and then the name was changed to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. Today it’s called the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.”
In the 30 years I’ve been working with this group, I’ve been able to help raise about $8 million for spinal-cord research.
“In addition to the money I was raising for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, I raised a couple of million dollars for a type of gene therapy research being developed at the University of California at San Diego. I was able to get small grants that led to bigger grants, which led to $15 million in federal grants to establish a primate colony at the University of California at Davis, where research was being done on spinal-cord injuries. The researchers are experimenting with regenerating the spinal cord.”
“Because of my interest in the subject, I’ve met about 300 scientists from all over who are conducting research on spinal-cord injuries. I’ve traveled to dozens of scientific meetings everywhere to meet these scientists and find out what’s being developed to possibly regenerate the spinal cord.”
The Future of SCI Research According to Bob Yant
“I’m proud that Cure Medical, the catheter manufacturing company that I founded, helps to fund researchers we feel have made tremendous breakthroughs in spinal cord regeneration.”
” For the first time in history, researchers have been able to regenerate the nerves in the spinal cord that control movement. At this point, if animal results from this research can be translated to humans, it is possible to regenerate the nerves in two segments of the spine.”
“What that means to a person like me, who has a C5 spinal cord injury, is that if I have two-more levels of regeneration on my spinal cord, I’ll have full use of my hands. I also will be completely independent for my personal care needs. Then I’ll be able to catheterize myself, prepare my own meals, drive a car and get myself in and out of bed – a total change of lifestyle for me. If everything works out right, from what we know now, we may be testing some of this research on human beings within few years.”
“This exciting new research offers hope and promise for those of us who have spinal cord injuries. This possibility makes me adamant about raising money for research. I’m very excited about the future for all people with spinal cord injuries,” Yant says.