The Usher III Initiative relies heavily on friends and supporters to spread the word about our research and help us maintain the momentum that will bring us to a cure. One of our most loyal supporters is Rebecca Alexander, a Californian living in New York. Diagnosed with Usher III as a teenager, Rebecca, now 34, is determined to prove that individuals with this disorder may have physical disabilities, but can take on physical challenges that even seeing/hearing individuals might never attempt. Rebecca’s drive and resilience are infectious and here are some of the many faces of Rebecca that make her our role model:
• Multi-faceted career professional – A Columbia University educated psychotherapist with a thriving, private practice in Manhattan, Rebecca also has a large following among those who take one or more of her 10 spin classes (exercise classes on the stationary bicycle) each week.
• Extreme athlete – In 2013 Rebecca participated in Civilian Military Combine (CMC), a new type of ultimate fitness competition that involves team participation in a series of boot camp exercises, participating in 3 to 7 miles of military inspired, obstacle course racing. Civilians team up with military personnel and first responders in this ultimate test of physical and mental endurance. Rebecca’s “urban assault” competition was in Brooklyn.
• Fundraiser – Rebecca’s tireless efforts and those of her family and friends raised over $100,000 for the Usher III Initiative’s research effort. Through the “Spin for Sight” event that Rebecca organized in 2012, celebrity participants Katie Couric (ABC) and Hoda Kotb (NBC) helped Rebecca bring awareness to the urgent needs for treatments and a cure for Usher III.
• Storyteller – If you haven’t already seen Rebecca featured on TV (NBC’s Today Show and local ABC news spots) and radio (several New York stations) or in print (Marie Claire and New York Magazine), you’ll have a chance to read her upcoming memoir to be published in 2014 by Penguin Books! Here is a link to more information about the upcoming release.
• Usher III patient – With her hearing declining rapidly, and prompted by the dramatic results experienced by others, Rebecca had cochlear implant surgery on May 15, 2013. Her new implant was activated on June 11th. Since that time she has worked diligently on mapping and listening therapy. “Sometimes just living life feels exhausting,” says Rebecca, “but getting my new implant has made a huge difference in my daily quality of life. And… it’s still improving every day!” As she re-learns how to hear through the computerized implant, statistics bear witness to the value of her efforts. And though her vision continues to decline, this hasn’t slowed her down. She’s already planning her next challenge…so, stay tuned!