Wadena native James Krause's name joined Hollywood stars and political giants when he was inducted into the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame Nov. 17 along with actor Robin Williams and U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.
"It is a pretty big honor," Krause said.
Krause received one of two awards given to researchers for his work on quality of life issues. The National Spinal Cord Injury Association inducted 17 members into its 2008 hall of fame for accomplishments in various fields in support of SCI. Krause could not accept the award in person due to a fractured leg.
Krause suffered a major spinal cord injury during a diving accident on Ottertail River in 1971 at age 16. He holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of Minnesota and has had 99 research papers published. He is the associate dean for clinical research in the College of Health Professions at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. He also serves as the scientific director of the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund along with many other positions.
The induction is the fourth in a recent string of awards Krause has received for his research.
"It's rewarding," he said. "We try to provide leadership on a national and international level."
The honors help validate his research and make it easier to obtain support for further studies, Krause said. The results of the work done by him and his colleagues is used around the world, he said.
His success wouldn't have happened without the support of his hometown, he said.
"There's no way I would have done this without the support of, number one, my family, number two, the town and, number three, the state," Krause said.
Krause is the son of Stuart and Okie Krause, who owned Krause Drug. Krause's brothers, Chuck and Dave, both still live near Wadena, he said. Krause returns to the area several times a year to visit family and to fish in the Ottertail River. He always stops at the Niteowl Restaurant & Lounge for pizza when he's in town.
"Our roots are very deep in that area," he said. "I'm still pretty deeply a Minnesotan."
His favorite fishing spots are not far from where he was injured, he said.
The people of Wadena really rallied around him after the accident, he said. He can't feel anything below his chest except for some movement in his right upper arm. There were many fundraising campaigns and "Jim We Care" banners were on display.
He's very grateful to have grown up in Wadena and Minnesota, he said. The progressive state helped support his education.
Krause's academic accomplishments and success in the field of research are all the more remarkable considering he was not a good student before his accident. Phy Ed was the only class he got good grades in, he said. The results of an intelligence test he took during rehab in Minneapolis two and half years after the accident surprised him when he did better than he expected. He found out he was an underachiever in high school.
Krause started his post-high school academic journey with a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota.
"My spinal cord injury created as many opportunities as I lost," he said.
Right now, he's involved in a number of studies working with just about everything that affects long-term outcomes for those with SCI including employment, prevention of health problems, longevity and issues affecting underrepresented populations due to race and ethnicity.
His research work has been a way of paying people back for their investment of time and money, he said. He really wanted to be in SCI research because it helped him so much.
"It did make a difference to me that so many people had done so much for me," he said.
He has no doubt that he's in the right field and in the right place, he said.
"That was my calling," he said.