About Michael Brent

In 1997 Michael Brent, then 18 years old, suffered a severe spinal cord injury in an automobile accident on his way home from Valhalla Golf Course in Louisville, Kentucky. In a single moment, the accident left this athletically and academically gifted young man paralyzed from the neck down. A few weeks later, a group of friends organized a car wash and bake sale to raise funds to help Michael and his family with the astronomical expenses associated with this type of injury.

After raising over $1,600 in their first effort, the group organized several other fund raisers, thus the name “Friends for Michael”. In one year, the group raised enough money to pay off Michael’s handicap accessible van. In going back and forth to Frazier Rehab Institute for physical therapy, Michael met other people with spinal cord injuries that had little or no support from family and friends so he wanted to keep the organization going. In 1999 Friends for Michael incorporated and became a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit organization. By 2001, the organization had joined forces with the University of Louisville Spinal Cord Injury Research Center and began donating a large portion of the money raised to research. Friends for Michael continued to provide assistance to victims of spinal cord injury, providing them with vans, wheelchairs, ramps and other equipment necessary to improve their quality of life. A lot of the success Friends for Michael has experienced over the years can be attributed to Michael and the inspiration he gave us to continue our efforts.

One year after his accident, Michael enrolled in the University of Kentucky and earned his degree in Broadcast Journalism. During his undergraduate work, he earned the university’s prestigious Adelstein Award, given each year to a student with disabilities that is an inspiration to others. He returned to school to pursue his Masters Degree and to work as a reporter for “The Cats Pause”. Michael is still honored by “The Cats Pause” as they have a permanent discussion board thread for Michael on-line. Michael was also a very active member of the Phi Kappa Phi Fraternity.

On April 17, 2007 Michael became ill and passed away within hours. It was later learned he had an ulcer that he was unaware of due to his paralysis and the ulcer perforated causing his death.

Michael’s death has left a void in the life of many but his strength, determination and “never say never” attitude taught us all how to live. From the moment of his accident, he never felt sorry for himself. He worried about his family and friends. He had a smile that you could never forget.

Michael set an example for all of us with his will to live life to its fullest no matter the obstacles. Because of his desire to help others, Friends for Michael continues their efforts: to find a cure for spinal cord injury by donating funds to the Spinal Cord Research Centers at the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky; and to provide assistance to victims of spinal cord injury.

In 2010, Friends for Michael set a goal of completing the handicap accessible playground which it started shortly after Michael’s death. The playground construction is under way and we hope that a lot of you will help with our efforts by either participating in one of our events or making a cash donation.

In Memory of Michael Brent from Friends For Michael on Vimeo.