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Financial Assistance

One of the largest barriers to independence that a newly disabled individual faces is the financial burden that must be overcome. From the need to hire an assistant, purchase medical equipment and/or adaptive devices, or to obtain affordable housing that is accessible, it can be quite costly for someone to build a new life. The United Spinal Association - Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter (USA-SWC) Greatest Needs Fund was established to help those individuals in times of crisis to obtain necessary equipment or services when other funding sources fail.

To help individuals with traumatic spinal cord injury overcome situations of crisis when that person’s physical and/or emotional safety is threatened, we provide short-term financial assistance while working with the individual to help them find other services or programs that will meet their long-term needs.


The Greatest Needs Fund will contribute up to $1,000 towards any of the following:

  • Wheelchairs for individuals with no insurance, or if insurance will not cover something that without will jeopardize the well-being of the individual

  • Insurance co-pays for critical equipment or adaptions

  • Repairs to medical equipment

  • Necessary home modifications

  • Wheelchair cushions

  • Transportation to medical appointments, support groups, or USA-SWC sponsored events

Support Group/Peer Advising

We strive to be a resource for spinal cord injured individuals and their families in Wisconsin. A place where they can go to find information on community services and programs, housing and advocacy issues, and make requests for Greatest Needs Fund grants to fulfill a critical need.

Members of USA-SWC with similar injuries meet and talk with newly injured patients and their families during and after their hospital stay. It has been our experience that a person who has suffered a similar injury can have a very real and credible influence upon a newly injured patient. These experienced individuals can provide insight into the details regarding the disability to the newly injured patient and his/her family that able-bodied health professionals are unable to provide.

We conduct Peer Networking events for those with SCI/D and their families. These meetings offer opportunities to talk to individuals with similar disabilities and share problems and interests to learn from each other’s experiences. While we are an organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with spinal cord injuries or disorders, many of our topics are relevant to all who have disabilities as well as their family members and caregivers. All are encouraged to connect with us.

For peer networking and USA-SWC events, we offer Transit Plus reimbursement if you need transportation assistance. We will reimburse your roundtrip fees at the event. Please let us know in advance if you will require reimbursement.


USA-SWC awards $500.00 extended education scholarships each year to students with spinal cord injuries or children of parents with SCI/D. Scholarships are given in the Spring and Fall semesters. Applications can be submitted anytime and will be reviewed for the semester following application receipt. Please allow 45 days for review.

Eligibility requirements are:

  • Must have an SCI or Disease of the spinal cord, or be the child of a parent with SCI/D.

  • Submit a letter of recommendation.

  • Submit a copy of education transcripts.

  • Submit a short essay describing your education objectives and plans for the future (No more than one page.)

If approved, payments are made directly to the accredited University/College of choice.

Stephen J. Schwalbe Respite Pavilion


Recreational activities and just plain fun is necessary for everyone. What is life in the summer without enjoying an event like Summerfest? In order to make the festival grounds more accessible, the USA-SWC and many others created The Stephen J. Schwalbe Respite Pavilion on the Summerfest grounds. The building is open from noon until 10:00 pm every day of every major event held at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park.  It is an oasis for persons with disabilities or special needs.

The Respite Pavilion (sometimes called the Respite Center) welcomes individuals of all ages and their families to escape the elements, noise, and crowds to take care of any special needs they may have.  It is a clean, air conditioned facility with two large accessible restrooms, a large shower with shower chair, changing area with an adult changing table, storage lockers, electricity for charging wheelchairs/scooters, and seating in the comfort of a temperature-controlled environment along with a walled off patio and area for service dogs.

It is continuously staffed by volunteers from USA-SWC who built and donated this facility for all to enjoy with the help of many generous volunteers and donors.

Per the feedback of the 2,000+ visitors we receive each year, it enables people to attend any or all of the wonderful festivals and events on the fairgrounds who could not otherwise do so without the dedicated facility to address their diverse needs.  To our knowledge the Stephen J. Schwalbe Respite Pavilion is the only facility of its kind in the country. 

It is located on the south end of the Miller Lite Oasis stage, midway between the South gate and the Main gate.  Service dogs are welcome.  Look on your event map for the heart icon with a wheelchair in the center to find us, as seen below.

pushing wheeler symbol inside a red heart
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