The VMC family has lost a true hero.
Richard Patterson passed away last night peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends, to a personal rendition of his favorite song.
In the words of Dr. Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner, who leads VMC's Rehabilitation Research Center: Richard was an amazing man who influenced so many diverse circles and will be missed terribly. He led the peer-support counseling program at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center for the past 15 years. He was a tireless advocate for individuals with disabilities, peer support coordinator, committee member for the Public Authority for In-Home-Supportive-Services, a co-chair of the Disability Advisory Commission for the City of San Jose, brother, son, fiancé, colleague, and friend. His loss will impact the thousands of lives he has touched.
One life was mine. I met Rich eight years ago, and there's no end to what he taught me. Rich was the first to explain to me that "you never really 'accept' your spinal cord injury, rather you learn to live and work with it, the best you can, which is why peer support is so critical." As much as someone not living with a disability can understand, Richard Patterson helped me understand.
Our work together saw Richard leading adventurists (like him) with disabilities on glider rides, whale-watching and SCUBA trips, and other excursions that proved what was possible. Great men like Steve Lyon and Marv Tuttle worked with Richard for years to demonstrate to thousands that life after a spinal cord injury can be full and exciting. The VMC Foundation will be forever proud to be part of his legacy.
We have, therefore, established a fund in his name, to ensure that his peer support and community work will grow. His family requests that gifts be sent to the VMC Foundation, 2400 Moorpark Ave. #207, San Jose CA 95128. Be sure to write "Richard Patterson" in the memo of your check, or to give by ccard, call us at 408-885-5299 or visit us on line.
Rich, I'll miss you buddy. We all will.