Just a few weeks before the Independence Day celebrations of July 4, Toyota pulled through with $300,000 of last-minute funding for a United States veteran’s dream of opening a recovery center for spinal cord injury patents.
It all started when Chief Warrant Officer Romy Camargo’s Army detachment started taking enemy fire on September 16, 2008 while on a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan. In the midst of the firefight, Camargo fell limp to the ground with a bullet wound to the back of his neck. Camargo’s life would never be the same.
Camargo was quickly transported back to the U.S. where his treatments began. The doctors gave him little hope of living, but his pulled through. He eventually grew strong enough to breath without a ventilator and began the long road of physical therapy. Though his doctors say his chances of walking are slim, his determination says otherwise.
Camargo and his wife Gaby spent many hours on the road traveling from their home in Tampa, Florida to a therapy center in Orlando. It was during that time the couple set their sights on opening a state-of-the-art facility in their hometown that would cater to veterans and civilians alike who suffer from spinal cord injuries.
As the June 2015 closed out, the Camargo’s dream opened up. With the help of Toyota and several other key sponsors – along with thousands of volunteers – opened its doors.
What’s more, Toyota donated a 2015 Toyota Sienna minivan fully equipped with a mobility ramp for Stay In Step to use. Located adjacent to Tampa’s medical hub, Stay In Step serves as a regional center for SCI injuries. The center is stocked with the latest in physical therapy equipment, including a Toyota-engineered robot that assists in walking movements.
Simon Nagata, Toyota’s Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer was present for Stay In Step’s grand opening and personally handed Romy the keys to the new Sienna.
Why It Matters
It’s awesome to see an automaker reach out into the community with both financial and physical support. The $300,000 Toyota donated helped Stay In Step meet its need of $750,000 in order to open while the Sienna mobility van will allow Stay In Step workers to transport patients to and from the facility.
What’s more, the Camargos’ dedication to helping disabled veterans is beyond awesome. Even the family members are welcome there. The facility offers rooms for family members and children to relax and play while their loved ones are getting therapy – something not often found in today’s medical practices.
TAMPA, Fla. (June 28, 2015) – During his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, Romy Camargo’s patrol was ambushed. A sniper’s bullet changed the life of this decorated war veteran and his family. Now, with help from Toyota, Camargo, his family and a strong team of supporters are forever changing the lives of paraplegics and quadriplegics across the country.
Camargo and his wife, Gaby, have opened the doors to Stay In Step, a new, non-profit recovery center dedicated to helping spinal-cord injury (SCI) patients take a step forward toward recovery. This groundbreaking facility offers treatment, rehabilitation and support services to veterans and civilians in Tampa, Fla.
Toyota donated $300,000 in last-mile funding to help the facility reach its $750,000 fundraising goal and open its doors. At the grand opening June 20, Toyota North America Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Simon Nagata also presented Stay In Step with a wheelchair-accessible 2015 Toyota Sienna minivan.
“Supporting Stay In Step is aligned with Toyota’s corporate vision to lead the way to the future of mobility and enrich lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people,” Nagata said. “Toyota is proud to support Stay In Step and the tremendous work of Romy and Gaby.”
By combining intense strength and conditioning workouts with a focus on the natural movements and weight of the body, Stay In Step will use emerging therapies and a “never quit” attitude to help patients and their families.
“Stay In Step is dedicated to providing cutting edge physical rehabilitation services and including the much needed tools to win the mental game,” Gaby Camargo said. “We want to create an environment for patients to support one another, share stories and give encouragement, and offer some relief from the intense daily schedule. Stay In Step provides a place of comfort, relaxation and shares a sense of family.”
That sense of family was in full force June 20, when the Camargos cut a long resistance band to open the center. They were surrounded by Nagata, Lt. Gen. Martin Steele, Lt. Col. Scott Mann and other supporters.
For Toyota, the support and interest in Stay In Step goes beyond the donations.
“We are applying the strength and expertise of Toyota’s engineering and robotics to the challenges faced by those injured in service to this country,” Nagata said. “Toyota’s partner robots are being developed to assist people in their everyday activities. “By sharing this technology, we hope to serve the mobility needs of veterans and people around the world.”
The Stay In Step story began in 2008 when Romy was shot. He spent 18 months of intensive inpatient care before he was finally able to leave the hospital, in a wheelchair. Romy and Gaby drove twice a week from their Tampa home to Orlando for treatment.
Now, there is a center in Tampa that can treat Romy and other SCI patients in the community, helping them continue on their road to recovery. Tampa is home to the busiest polytrauma unit in the nation at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center. The Haley polytrauma unit treats the most severely injured veterans while they are in the hospital.
“With everyone’s support, we have built up a center that’s going to impact so many lives,” Romy Camargo said. “Gaby said that we could do this – that we could open up this center in Tampa. And now it’s a reality.”
About Stay In Step
Founded by Romy and Gaby Camargo, Stay In Step is a Step Forward Toward Recovery. This groundbreaking facility offers treatment, rehabilitation and support services to veterans and civilians with spinal cord injuries. By combining intense strength and conditioning workouts with a focus on the natural movements and weight of the body, Stay In Step uses emerging therapies and a “never quit” attitude to help quadriplegics, paraplegics and their families across the United States take a step forward towards recovery. Additional information about Stay In Step is available at www.stayinstep.org.