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Dear Friends,

As many of you know, our very dear friend and colleague Leslie C. McLaughlin, VMD, (seen here in photo with her brother, Bruno) suffered a C5-C6 spinal cord injury on March 1, 2012 while skiing. Since then, Leslie has been fighting with determination to regain strength and function while battling some of the side effects that come with paralysis. In July 2013 she moved out of the apartment she had lived in for years. We found a little rental house in Torrance, CA where the landlord was very supportive of the modifications we made thanks to the generosity of so many of you.

Updates (7)

January 18, 2019

Dear friends and family,

I hope you enjoyed a very happy holiday season and that 2019 brings you peace, happiness and good health. 2018 was a great year for me. I graduated from my master of public health program in August after completing a veterinary-related masters project. I am hopeful that the knowledge and skills I obtained during this program will open a door for me to get back to a career related to veterinary medicine.

During the second half of the year I was able to make some exciting functional gains in physical therapy. For years I had required help to transfer in and out of my wheelchair and to push my manual wheelchair over larger sidewalk steps. With guidance from my physical therapy team and some practice I was able to become independent with both tasks. Although it may not sound like much, being able to transfer independently, in particular, is a game changer. I am very thankful to have access to continuing physical therapy with therapists who are specialized in spinal cord injury rehab. Thanks to them I continue to increase my independence. I am also thankful to all of you for this opportunity, since your support makes it possible for me to have regular physical therapy sessions all year long.

The last exciting update I will share is that I found a warm water physical therapy pool near me, so I have been able to go swimming! It is SO nice to move through the water freely and independently. I will try to upload a video so you all can see how wonderful this is. Help hope live funds covered the cost of my swimming sessions :).

Thank you so much for all the support you have given and continue to give me. I am humbled by your generosity and kindness and inspired to fight on and keep moving forward.

With gratitude,


June 11, 2017

Dear friends and family,

happy summer!

Last year in the update letter I emailed out I shared with you that I was completing a Master of public health degree in epidemiology in order to get back to a career in veterinary medicine. I am hoping this degree will open doors in the research/teaching or public health fields. I also mentioned that I had begun volunteering at my local animal shelter, assisting the veterinary team with visual examinations of their "herd". (It’s also nice to be able to provide a bit of companionship to the animals in their care, although it can be difficult at times to bear witness to the homeless pet population.) This year, both of those things continue. This summer I am completing the 'field experience' part of my degree with the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services. I am working on a project to develop a surveillance system for infectious diseases in the city's companion animal population. The project is just getting started but I am SO very happy to have been able to find one within the veterinary realm.

Towards the end of last year, I started to experience some shoulder fatigue/pain with driving. After consultation with an adaptive driving specialist, I made a series of modifications to my adapted minivan in order to get my shoulder closer to the steering wheel and the steering wheel hand control better-positioned ergonomically. That improved things, however I was still experiencing fatigue. This year, after another consultation, I added a counterweight to balance the steering wheel hand control. This seems to have helped make the whole system really fit me so that now I am better able to drive greater distances. It was a process but I'm so glad the solution was able to be found. Hooray! Your generous donations covered the cost of all these modifications.

Your contributions have also helped me continue with specialized spinal cord injury physical therapy sessions. Medicare covers a limited amount of physical therapy per year even in people with chronic conditions such as spinal cord injury that require ongoing therapy in order to maintain health. The great therapists at the rehab center help me keep my upper body as strong as possible, my leg muscles moving, and my cardiovascular health up.

I hope this update finds all of you well and enjoying some warmer weather. Thank you so very much for all the support you have given and continue to give me. You all have eased the challenges associated with spinal cord injury greatly.

With great appreciation,


Photo Galleries (3)

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November 28, 2023

So happy to be out here in Long Beach with you, Buddy, it's never enough time together!! You are, as always, awe-inspiring with the strength, brilliance, and drive you maintain to achieve your goals!
Much love to you, from the Buddies,
Louis & Lydia

Louis & Lydia Hamilton

November 30, 2022

Dearest Buddy! We can't wait to get back out to visit after this long pandemic separation!! Strong work, as always!

We love ya,
your Buddies

Louis & Lydia Hamilton

March 8, 2022

Hi Leslie,
I found a post you made on the forum in 2016 about a hemorrhoidectomy. I am a C6 Quad that was injured in a skiing accident in 1998. I was just told that I need a hemorrhoidectomy and would really like to speak with someone in a similar condition who has had the procedure. If you have had the procedure and care to share I would love to talk with you. If you are interested in talking my email address is I hope to hear from you.

Aaron Smith