(Reprinted from the 2011 Commencement Booklet)
On April 25, 1998, the life of Marquette University student Bryon Riesch, then 19, changed forever. A devastating injury left Mr. Riesch paralyzed from the chest down with limited use of his arms. Despite the disability, and with tremendous support from his community and family, he returned to Marquette the next fall to finish his education.
Mr. Riesch graduated in 2002 with a double major in marketing and information technology. He became involved in Goodwill Industries’ Ability Connection program, which provides opportunities and advocacy for people with disabilities to enter a career in IT. He was named the 2004 Goodwill International Graduate of the Year.
For four years, Mr. Riesch served as a program analyst and later as a system specialist in the IT division at Northwestern Mutual. In 2006, he joined R&R Insurance Services, Inc. in Waukesha as a project manager.
Channeling the community support that rallied after his injury, Mr. Riesch helped start the nonprofit Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation. Its goal is to find a cure for paralysis by funding the latest medical research and to provide assistance to those suffering from neurological disorders. Since its establishment in 2001, the foundation has raised over $1.7 million toward the fight against paralysis. Recently, the foundation pledged $1 million to The Medical College of Wisconsin to establish the Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation Research Laboratories.