A little over a year ago Dr. Russell Moon was an avid bicyclist, had a booming dental practice, was teaching at UCLA and getting ready for the coming ski season. Russell is a longtime Santa Monica fixture. His dental practice on Arizona Avenue had a constant stream of happy patients.

Then on Sept. 13, 2011, he was on a bike ride when a car accidentally turned into him, fracturing his C3 and C4 vertebrae and paralyzing him from the shoulders down.

This accident sent shockwaves through the community of men and women that know and love Russell. The outpouring of love was tremendous. I’ll never forget the day that a group of us guys were having lunch and someone decided that Russell needed a bigger television in his hospital room. A hat, literally a hat, was passed around the group of maybe 20 men, and 10 minutes later $300 had been raised.

That experience was one of those teaching moments about what a community is capable of doing. There were no long-winded speeches and dry chicken dinners to endure; just a simple request for guys to chip in and bam! There it was.

Like all of us, Russell has had his challenges in life, but unlike so many of us his reactions to those challenges are what set him apart. He’s a very determined man who has accomplished much in his life.

When the accident first happened, Russell was incapacitated. It would be weeks before he could breathe on his own, but breathe he did.

One of my favorite aphorisms is, “It’s not the dog in the fight that matters so much as the fight in the dog.” The recovery of Russell is a continuing demonstration of the principle that we have great resources in ourselves and it is only upon being truly challenged that we draw upon them.

This is not to say that he always has good days. He has bad days of self-doubt, and all that goes with such a radical change in his life and lifestyle. But what makes him special is his ability to keep going in spite of doubt and fear. Courage is moving forward in spite of fear. Russell is absolutely nothing if not courageous.

He has undergone tremendous rehabilitation thanks to the dedicated people at Next Step Fitness, (www.nextstepfitness.org) a nonprofit that provides people living with paralysis the opportunity for health and recovery through affordable and progressive community fitness and wellness facilities. There is a video on YouTube which speaks volumes about the incredible journey that Russell is taking. The video shows him on day one being unable to move and ends with him moving his legs. Its title is “Russell Moon: Day One and Now,” and is a very moving video.

This coming Saturday at the Edgemar Center For The Arts there is a benefit for Next Step. This organization has been there for my friend and I want to be there for them, and I’d like you to join me. The talented George Emerson (If you’ve been to Mastro’s you’ve likely heard him playing the piano. He’s worth the trip alone!) will be performing along with Sara Niemietz, who has a voice that is breathtaking; check her out on YouTube.

To lighten the evening Ritch Shydner will be doing comedy. He has a long and illustrious career in comedy from his appearances on Carson and Letterman to his many roles on TV.

This benefits the rehabilitation facility that has done such great work with my friend Russell. Tickets are tax deductible and the suggested donation is $40 per ticket. Available at fanfueled.com/event/details/4495-a-night-for-russell. Seating is limited at the Edgemar Center For The Arts.

Today Russell is in a wheelchair and has ‘round-the-clock care to keep his body flexible, but I expect that one day Russell will walk again. And to make that happen I’m asking you to help out Next Step Fitness by joining me this Saturday, Nov. 24 at the Edgemar Center For The Arts.

It’s only been a year since his accident, but Russell is back at work as a dental office administrator and still going to physical rehabilitation.

You see, you just can’t keep a good man down, no matter what happens to him.



David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.

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