Seeing The Possible beyond paralysis

CLEVELAND -- An angry boyfriend pushed her out of a second-story window when she was 24 years old.

She would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

Edna Sutton knows domestic violence. But don't you call her a victim. She's got no time for that..
She’s too busy making sure her resilience pays off for others with spinal cord injuries.

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“I chose not to be a victim. I chose to take the pain and turn out something positive from it. The Lord still blessed me with a brain. I have the ability to do anything if I put my mind to it," says Sutton.

So Edna set her mind on doing good.

Frustrated with home healthcare workers poorly trained for paralysis patients, Sutton says "I worked and worked and I taught myself how to write grants."

After years of chasing a dream, this weekend marks the debut of Sutton’s new Compassions Training and Awareness Center.

"We offer a specialized, hands-on caregiver training program," says Sutton.

Besides training home healthcare providers from a first-hand patient approach, Sutton says Compassions will also be a one-stop resource and service center for people living with paralysis.

The plan is that Compassions will be their ticket to independence. It’s located in a suite inside the former Cleveland Clinic Hospital on Euclid Avenue.

The now-Chandler Building, repurposed for good, sort of like Edna herself.

"I feel like God gave me a purpose," says Sutton, “I used to be miserable in those days before I ended up in a wheelchair. Even though people would say I was so pretty and your body was beautiful, but my *mind was blocked.*

"My mind was so foggy and it turns out none of that mattered. But now today I'm beautiful. Wheelchair and all. Now I feel beautiful because I know who I am and I know my purpose. So they can beat me down all they want and I'm still going to rise every time and come back better than before, like I'm doing right now,” says Sutton.

Edna, characteristically, is never afraid to keep it real, but tears up when she says, "They don't understand how real it is."

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And sometimes it’s raw as well.

“This is my life and, as far as I know, we only get one. I’m going to fight for mine and, while I'm fighting for mine, I'm going to fight for others and I'm going to fight for those who can't speak," says Sutton.

Compassions, she says, is about to be, for so many,

"Life changing.” She smiles and adds, “That's the good stuff.”