It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Ray Wickson. Ray was a pioneer and leader in a quest for a cure for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury. After being injured in a car accident in 1983, Ray dedicated his life to raising funds for spinal cord research. Ray was one of the early leaders of what is now known as the Canadian Spinal Research Organization and was in fact one of the early pioneers and advocates for finding a cure for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury.
In the early days, Ray single handedly dedicated his entire life, in every waking hour to the cause of cure. When I call Ray a pioneer, I do not say that lightly. Back when Ray started in his quest for a cure, the majority of society which includes the healthcare community and injured people themselves did not believe that a cure for paralysis was possible. Ray was one of the few lone voices advocating for research to find a cure. They were difficult times that took immense strength with endurance and integrity to weather the opposition to such an effort.
Ray was not a soldier for the cause but a general in the war against paralysis. He may not have been the most diplomatic but was always forthright, honest and determined in his efforts. He was one of the few individuals throughout the world that not only solicited funds but made sure that funds were spent properly on targeted scientific research for a cure for paralysis. Ray was well respected for his efforts and advocacy for research and well known throughout the neuroscientific community. He was no shrinking violet.
As I said earlier, Ray was a general and lead the way for other greats like Christopher Reeve and Rick Hansen. He will be dearly missed amongst friends, family but especially the spinal cord injury community, yet he will not be forgotten. His legacy will endure and the torch has been passed to spinal cord injury survivors to pick up the cause and see it through to fulfill the dream of a cure for spinal cord injuries. In reflection upon Ray’s life and his impact on the spinal cord injury community I think of the Walt Whitman poem “O Captain! My Captain!”
Ray my Captain,
“Our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won”
In your memory and spirit, the spinal cord injury community will keep the good fight and will not stop until we find a cure for paralysis. We will do so in the way you led us by example, with tenacity, vigor, passion and relentlessness.
O Captain! My Captain you will be missed but never forgotten.
Born August 3rd 1953, Deceased March 7 2021