Hope & Spirit Honoree: Harvey Ross
Harvey Ross has experienced firsthand the senseless violence that far too often strikes Milwaukee neighborhoods. At just 19, a long-running dispute ended tragically when a man shot Harvey. The bullet pierced his neck and shattered his spine. While his attacker served only one and half years in prison, Harvey was sentenced to life as a quadriplegic.
The nurses and therapists who cared for Harvey at the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Spinal Cord Injury Center remember he would only lay in bed with the lights out for the first few weeks after his injury. But Harvey’s mother, Curlie, never gave up on her son. Says Harvey, “For six months, my mother came to the hospital every single day except one. She kept telling me it would have been worse for me if I had died, because I wouldn’t have been here for my family. She told me just being here was a blessing and I should live for that.”
Kathy LaFavor, coordinator of the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Neurosciences Center, says “Harvey eventually took his mother’s advice and found the courage to get out of bed and learn the skills he needed. Since his discharge from the hospital, Harvey has not only refined basic self-care skills, he has learned to drive and live independently.”
Harvey continues to look to the future. After completing an associate’s degree in human services at Milwaukee Area Technical College, he now drives himself to classes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he is three semesters away from earning a bachelor’s degree in communications. He also volunteers as a peer counselor at the Spinal Cord Injury Center, meeting with young men who have sustained similar injuries to provide support and model positive adaptive behaviors. Most importantly, he works as a public speaker, delivering a powerful anti-violence and injury prevention message to students in area middle and high schools and colleges. Says LaFavor, “Harvey has overcome incredible physical, social and psychological challenges in the 13 years since his injury and is truly an inspiration to others.”