Lenny Arbore found himself facing a diagnosis of a tumor on his spinal cord in 2017, and just a few weeks later, he went into an 11 ½ -hour surgery at Rochester General Hospital with no promise of being able to walk again.
“I was basically paralyzed from my sternum to my toes,” Lenny said, but as soon as he transferred to the Golisano Neurology Rehabilitation Center at Unity Hospital, “the protocol started. They make sure you’re not sitting in your bed for hours a day.”
And he saw the difference the exercises and therapies made for him and in the lives of other patients.
“I was there for 22 days, so I saw people come and go,” he said. “At times I wondered, ‘Am I ever going to get better?’ But the people there wanted you to succeed.”
He became friends with patient technicians who wanted to become nurses, and he overheard staff talking about what a difference professional development makes for the whole team.
As he worked to walk again, he thought about how he might help others succeed, too.
“We’re all human, and we’re all here to help,” said Lenny, who is a traveling salesperson. “Those nurses and technicians, I can’t do what they do. It’s very impressive to me. But let me give back to the people who were very giving to me.”
When Lenny was a patient at the Golisano Neurology Rehabilitation Center, he started buying pizza on Fridays as a way to say thank you. Then, when he returned home, he tried volunteering, but his work schedule made it difficult for him to give back in that way.
That’s when he decided to give to a general fund to help the rehabilitation center as a whole.
“I was treated with such kindness and thoughtfulness,” he said. “Maybe this will help buy food for a seminar or maybe it will send someone to get specialized training that they can come back and teach others.”
Throughout his life, Lenny has given to countless special causes, but he didn’t always feel like the money was reaching the people he wanted to help.
“I decided this time to give locally,” he said, and he suggests other people give where they’ve been helped the most, too.
“Donate to the group that has made the biggest impact on you and your family,” he said. “You’ll always have that lasting memory.”