Everett's innovative treatment connected to team owner Ralph Wilson's philanthropic work

September 19, 2007

DETROIT—Buffalo Bills Tight End Kevin Everett sustained a life threatening spine injury at the Bills’ home opener on Sunday, September 9. The severity of the injury was immediately appreciated by the Bills’ medical staff. Team Physician and spine specialist, Dr. Andrew Cappuccino quickly responded using an experimental treatment termed “Moderate Hypothermia” which calls for the infusion of ice-cold saline to lower the body temperature in hopes of limiting a series of internal events that can lead to further spinal cord damage after an injury. This treatment protocol may have made a difference in saving Everett’s life, and potentially walking again.

Since the accident, the national outpouring for Everett’s well being exemplifies how the news of one man’s spinal cord injury resonates with individuals in this country and around the world. It is an injury that continues to challenge the most innovative medical investigators and is often overlooked by grant makers due to the novel, outside the box strategies associated with its research.

Though neglected by some, Ralph Wilson, the owner of the Buffalo Bills, is one grant maker who is willing to take the risk. Wilson has donated millions of dollars over the last several years to this research with the majority of funding going to the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami.

Everett’s treatment was the result of research performed at the Miami Project led by Dr. Barth Green, the chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Miami’s School of Medicine and Dr. Dalton Dietrich, the Scientific Director of the Miami Project.

Through the Ralph C. Wilson, Sr. and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Medical Research Foundation, Wilson provides seed money not only to benefit spinal cord injury research, but for many areas of high risk investigation that conventional sources like the National Institutes of Health would not initially support. His hope is that through the Foundation’s funding, new drug treatments or therapies are developed that have a major impact on people’s lives. 

“Wayne State is one of five leading research institutions that have been chosen by Mr. Wilson to participate in his Program for Discovery in the Biomedical Sciences for the past six years,” said Dr. Gloria Heppner, associate vice president for Research at Wayne State University, and the 2007 chair of the Wilson Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee. “Mr. Wilson is providing funding to these select institutions to support innovative, high risk/high impact biomedical research, particularly focused on neurosciences, musculoskeletal disorders, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.“

Along with Wayne State and the Miami Project, Wilson supports research at the Cleveland Clinic, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and the Mayo Clinic. Wilson’s vision is to assist in the improvement of other people’s lives now and into the future. He continues to make his mark on society through his heartfelt outreach to others, his passion for life, his search for knowledge and his desire to make a difference in the world of today and tomorrow. “Because of Mr. Wilson and the researchers at the Miami Project, we may be closer to finding a therapy that may help many others with similar injuries such as Kevin’s,” commented Dr. Heppner. “On behalf of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Wilson Foundation, I extend our best wishes for a full recovery to Kevin Everett, and best wishes to Mr. Wilson and the entire Buffalo Bills organization.”

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world.

The Ralph Wilson Medical Research Foundation was established in 1999 by Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., and is dedicated to supporting innovative, high risk/high impact biomedical research. The Foundation has contributed over $8,000,000 to the effort since its inception and provides grant funding exclusively to five partner institutions: The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, The Mayo Clinic, The University of Miami´s “Miami Project to Cure Paralysis,” The Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and Wayne State University. For more information, please go to