$6,960 of $25,000
38 donations

This fundraiser ended on 03/31/12

Create a fundraiser like this

Please help me raise $25,000 for stem cell therapy, which will enable me to live a fuller, more productive and independent life

My name is Daniel Leonard, and I am raising money to receive stem cell therapy in Panama (this therapy will NOT use fetal stem cells). I’m 28 years old and I am a quadriplegic. This is my story.

I was born in a small village in rural Alaska. I spent my childhood in Alaska, in a village with a population of 100 people. It was sometimes tough growing up in a village where we were the only white family, but I enjoyed the culture of the native Alaskans. My family moved to East Tennessee in 1995 when I was in the seventh grade. Starting school in Tennessee was a huge change for me; when the bell rang and the hall flooded with students, I was surrounded by more people than I had seen in my entire life.

I attended Holston Valley Middle School and Sullivan East High School. I was a good student, and was very active in sports. I played varsity basketball and football at Sullivan East, and also ran track. I also really enjoyed boxing, and after high school, I began to excel as an amateur boxer.

In August 2005, while I was on summer break from ETSU, I woke up in the middle of the night and found that I was on the floor in my bedroom, paralyzed. The last thing I remembered was rolling over onto my stomach to go to sleep the night before. At the hospital, it was determined that I had a broken neck, with a spinal cord injury, and would be a quadriplegic for the rest of my life. The doctors surmised that someone must have come into my room while I was sleeping and struck me with a weapon for this type of injury to have occurred.

Almost six years later, I find myself waking up in a small room in a nursing home where most of the residents are very old. I cannot walk or stand. I need help to get in and out of my electric wheelchair, and in and out of bed. I have some use of my arms, but my fingers are curled under, so use of my hands is limited. I can use the TV remote, and can use the computer, although this is difficult and slow. I can drink out of my thermos, and can feed myself if someone sets things up for me. I’m in constant pain, and I have frequent muscle spasms. The medication I take to control these often affects my memory and leaves me mentally exhausted. I watch my high school and college friends getting married, having children, and establishing careers, and I know that I am capable of so much more than the life I lead today.

I still have hope for a richer, fuller life. I would like to be able to move out of the nursing home into my own place, with a live-in caregiver if necessary. I would like to resume my college education. My goal is to have a productive and meaningful life.

I now have the opportunity to undergo an exciting medical procedure which may help me achieve these goals! The procedure is known as stem cell therapy, and has already been shown to greatly improve the function and condition of people with spinal cord injuries. Research in the United States has shown that rats with spinal cord injuries were able to walk again after stem cell treatment! Due to politics and the controversial nature of stem cell research, trials with human subjects in this country lag behind other countries such as China, Germany and Panama. After a great deal of study, my family has determined that the best center for stem cell treatment for me would be the Stem Cell Institute in Panama City, Panama. Their website is This particular institute has treated multiple spinal cord patients, with very exciting results. They even receive frequent patient referrals from the University of Miami, which is considered a world leader in neurological injury research.

If I can raise the money for the treatment, I would go there for one month, during which time I would receive several stem cell injections, as well as nutritional supplements and intensive physical therapy. My mother and sister would go with me. I am so excited and I really want to go!

In case you have religious or other reservations about stem cell therapy, I should explain that this center only uses stem cells from the person’s own body, as well as donated and ethically obtained umbilical cord stem cells from full term births. No fetal stem cells are used.

I am, of course, hopeful and excited about the potential benefits this treatment will have for me. But I am also excited about the opportunity to help others through my participation. Stem cell therapy has been shown to be effective in the treatment of not just spinal cord injuries, but many other diseases as well, such as multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, heart disease, autism, cerebral palsy, and others. By participating in this experimental treatment, I will be helping to advance important research which will ultimately make stem cell treatment available to many other sick and injured people who need it. Some of these people may be your own loved ones.

I am very excited about this opportunity, but the treatment is expensive. My family is able to pay for half of these costs, and together we have begun a fundraising campaign to raise $25,000, which is the rest of the funds needed. We have opened a non-profit account at First Tennessee Bank for donations and any money we raise. Because it is a non-profit account with a Tax ID number, any donations made will be tax-deductible. We will gladly accept donations of any size. Donations can even be made anonymously, by taking them to any First Tennessee Bank branch, or mailing them to First Tennessee Bank, 1500 West State of Franklin, Johnson City, TN 37604. Checks should be made out to the “Daniel Leonard Search For a Cure Fund.” You can also donate online, using a credit card, at

Most importantly, I would appreciate your prayers as I embark on this fundraising campaign, and as I enroll in this life-changing treatment. Fundraising progress, and ultimately, updates from the treatment, will be online on my blog -

As a boxer I’ve learned that at some point we all get knocked down, and standing back up isn’t always easy, but with you all in my corner and God behind me I know I’m not down for the count.

View more

Supporter activity

Login to post a comment
or Login