Arcanum native, paraplegic spearheads fundraising effort


HEREABOUTS virginia burroughs

Marcus York, an Arcanum native, actor and paraplegic, wants us all to try to visit the set of The Office in Los Angeles — if we’re among the lucky winners of a contest he’s helped establish through SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) and the show. All proceeds will benefit the project to cure paralysis sponsored by SCICure.

While still living in our area, York was in an automobile accident that left him a paraplegic; later, while a student at Kent State University, he attended an audition for a film about returning Korean veterans.

He got a part, was handed a card by an agent who he eventually contacted, moved to LA, and has appeared in numerous shows, most recently “CSI New York” and “The Office,” where he’s a recurring character.

As Billy Merchant, property manager of the office park, York made his first appearance during one of Michael’s (Steve Carell) attempts at sensitivity training toward the handicapped. Although Michael’s character lacks sensitivity in many areas, York has found that Carell does not. When approached, Carell and other members of the cast and crew were very supportive of York’s efforts.

“The line producer, Randy Cordray, approved a ‘set visit’ for our foundation to be able to raffle off as a prize in order to bring in the needed funding to cure paralysis,” says York. “Steve Carell even suggested that we (he) shoot a PSA right there on the set of “The Office.”

“Also, Oscar Nunez verbalized to me that he is open to being included in it as well.”

Awareness created by York on the set is a prize in itself, since, he says, “they were not at all familiar with SCICure beforehand.”

Entries — for a dollar each — can be purchased through SCI Research Advancement at www.scicure.org. But entrants will have to have patience, since the drawing won’t be held until October 2010.

York’s activism isn’t a one-stop effort; in January, he’ll be meeting with people at the White House, hopefully to create awareness there as well.

“A few months ago I mailed a letter to President Obama,” he says. “Kareem Dale, special advisor to President Obama, called me to set up a meeting at the White House regarding www.SCICure.org.

“The meeting is also to bring in funding,” says York. “Ours is the only foundation in the world where we’re ready for human clinical trials with nonembryonic stem cell material. The U.S. government spends, annually, approximately $15 billion to 20 billion on supplies, wheelchairs, 24 hour care for those who need it, etc., for spinal cord injured individuals vs. less than 1 percent of that on research for a cure.”

There are 1.25 million Americans living with SCI, and 10,000-15,000 new injuries every year, according to the foundation’s founder, Will Ambler, who will be going to D.C. with York.

If York gets his New Year’s wish, our government will be as receptive to SCICure as “The Office” cast and producers.

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