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Lakeshore Foundation Avenues
to Independence

February 1999 issue

If I Had A Hammer
Mathew Seals is paralyzed from the waist down, but the tornado that injured his spine didn’t paralyze his knowledge as an electrician. Alfred Ragland was born without hands, but with prosthetic devices he can still wield a hammer, screwdriver and other tools. And Jeff Hardin’s expert eye for landscaping is none the worse, even though he has a spinal cord injury.
Soaring Spirit Cover 2

These hardworking folks and others, disabled and able-bodied alike, were all part of an enormous house-raising effort this summer that culminated when disabled veteran Chris Wright, a paraplegic, looked proudly upon his new home. Called Ability House, the project was coordinated by the Greater Birmingham Habitat for Humanity and supported by the Lakeshore Foundation, and other organizations such as Ability Magazine, BellSouth Corp., BellSouth Pioneers and Target stores.

The projects drew upon the abilities of 246 volunteers in wheelchairs, those who were hearing and visually impaired, and many others who were willing to lend a hand to help a stranger. With 17 different types of disabilities represented at the work site, the project dispelled the notion that people with disabilities cannot volunteer on a construction project.

"It’s just a blessing to see so many people come together," Wright said. "A special thanks to all the volunteers with disabilities because truly this couldn’t have been possible without all of them. I want to cry. I’m just trying to take it all in – just pinch myself to see if it’s real."

Habitat homes are built so affordably because volunteers provide most of the labor. Families purchase the homes through interest-free loans and 300 hours of "sweat equity." The Greater Birmingham Habitat for Humanity will hold the home’s $40,000 mortgage. Wright’s monthly mortgage payments will go to the Birmingham office, which will use the money to build other Habitat homes, said Jan Bell, Greater Birmingham Habitat for Humanity CEO and President.

Research And Education Effort "Entirely Unique"
The Lakeshore Foundation is initiating a Research and Education program that has caught the attention of national and international leaders interested in enhancing physical activity for people with physical disabilities. For more than a year, the Lakeshore Foundation has been laying the groundwork for the program, which would be used to collect and share a wealth of information related to wheelchair athletics, fitness and recreation.

"This is entirely unique," says Lisa Olenik, Ph.D., the department chair of Human Performance and Kineslology at Huntingdon College, a consultant involved with the project. "Usually researchers are slightly removed from the people they study, but the Lakeshore Foundation is immersed in working with athletes who have disabilities. As they begin this research and education effort, they are unique in having both the human resources and the physical resources to develop projects that are invaluable to the national and international communities."

Already, distinguished visitors have toured the Lakeshore Foundation and have participated in a Research and Education Symposium, where they shared insights with Foundation staff. Speakers included Dr. Robert Steadward, President of the International Paralympic Committee; Mark Shepard, a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee who serves as a liaison for disabled athletes; and Dr. Gundrun Doll-Tepper, Director of the Institute of Sport Science at the Free University of Berlin, Germany. During their visit, they were briefed on the Lakeshore Foundation’s plans to build a world-class training center in Birmingham for disabled athletes.

The International Paralympic Committee, which sanctions sports for athletes with disabilities, is "trying to identify major centers around the world that could provide leadership for the development of sports for persons with disability," said Steadward. The Lakeshore program is unusual, Steadward said, because of the existing cooperation with former and current Paralympic athletes and because of the Foundation’s programs for young people.

"You don’t see that a lot anywhere in the world," he said.

The Lakeshore Foundation’s efforts thus far to launch its Research and Education program have included a self study, the symposium involving outside experts, an evaluation of facility needs, and the prioritization of goals and objectives.

The types of studies that might ultimately be conducted through the program are wide reaching. For instance highly sophisticated equipment could be used to examine specific body movements, such as the forehand swing in wheelchair tennis for people who have cerebral palsy. At the other end of the spectrum, cultural and social research might be conducted to examine perceptions and attitudes of people who participate in wheelchair athletics and recreation. Ultimately the results would be used to enhance training and programs for people involved with the Lakeshore Foundation, and for others with physical disabilities throughout the world.

"Our field is desperate for well-grounded information and research related to disabilities and physical activity," says Dr. Olenik. "The field is wide open. All of the large sport governing bodies are interested in what we are doing and many are considering partnering with us. People are watching the Lakeshore Foundation."

Cuddle Up With Your Favorite Tee’s
If your child’s drawers are overflowing with outgrown sports T-shirts, but you just can bear to part with these childhood treasures, how about turning this memorabilia into something useful? That’s what one Super Sports mom suggested when she learned that the Lakeshore Junior Wheelchair Basketball Team was looking for ways to make money for travel to the National Junior Wheelchair Basketball Tournament to be held in March of 2000 in Berkeley, Calif. For a $100 donation to the Lakeshore Foundation, those old T-shirts can be assembled into a comfy lap quilt.

Lane Blackwell Heim, who’s son Harris is a long-time Super Sports participant, has offered to work with her quilting partner, Dr. Perri Jacobs, to make the quilts if the team members can generate the sales. Coaches and parents alike hope that the effort will not only be a good fundraiser, but will also be an excellent team-builder for the youngsters, and will give them a sense of ownership in the team.

"My son has been involved with the Lakeshore Foundation program for nine years and it has helped us bring him up to be very independent," Lane explains. "They have not only encouraged him to be independent, but have provided him with excellent role models, opportunities to travel, opportunities to compete – to win and to lose. He is a very industrious young man and he needs to be aware of what the Foundation has given him. He needs to know that giving something back is also important."

Since beginning the project, Lane’s quilting company, T-Tops, has also begun marketing these special types of quilts to others, including college football programs.

The lap quilts are 45 inches x 60 inches and can be made from personal T-shirts or from a selection available through the Foundation. Deliver takes approximately four to six weeks. To order a quilt, call Miles Thompson at the Lakeshore Foundation at 868-2082.

Turning Points
"I tend to be a philosophical person, and a real turning point in my life with disability was when I began focusing on the things I had remaining, rather than on my losses. When you are first disabled, your life can be consumed by what you can’t do. The ironic thing about my disability is that it ultimately made me a more well-rounded person because I was forced to develop different aspects of myself. I saw that I could develop my intellect. I had my arms. I had insights into things. There was more to me than just my physical self." Ronda Jarvis Ray

Lakeshore Foundation Progress Report
Ronda Jarvis Ray has been named Chief Program Officer for the Lakeshore Foundation, responsible for overseeing all of the Foundation’s services to people with physical disabilities. Ronda joined the Foundation in 1997 as Director of Outreach. She holds a Master’s of Social Work from University of Illinois and has extensive experience as a rehabilitation case manager. Ronda is an internationally known wheelchair athlete, a former Sington Trophy Soaring Spirit winner, and a 1996 Paralympic Bronze Medallist as part of the USA Paralylmpic Women’s Basketball Team.

Cathy Miller has been appointed as Chief Financial Officer of the Lakeshore Foundation. She is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 15 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. Cathy joined the Foundation in 1997 as Director of Finance. Her previous work experience included Vulcan Materials and Ernst & Young. Cathy is responsible for all accounting and finance, information systems and human resources for the Lakeshore Foundation.

The Lakeshore Foundation has announced the appointment of Cathy C. Lee as Director of Development. Cathy brings to the Foundation significant fund raising, marketing and communication experience. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive with more than 14 years experience in non-profit management and fund development. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Development at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and she is the former Vice President for Development and Communications at Birmingham’s Discovery 2000, now named McWane Center.

Congratulations to Bonner Wagnon, Director of Community Life Programs for the Lakeshore Foundation, who has been named one of Birmingham’s Top 40 Under 40. Bonner was recognized by the Birmingham Business Journal, which annually honors individuals under 40 years of age who have demonstrated leadership in their professions and in the community.

Congratulations also to Kevin Orr, Director of Youth Programs for the Lakeshore Foundation, who has been named Commissioner of the National Quad Rugby Association (NQRQ).

Nathan Davis has been named Coordinator of Fitness Programs for the Lakeshore Foundation. He was previously a Fitness Specialist. Nathan joined the Foundation in 1997.

A Summer Of Big Events
The Lakeshore Foundation World Challenge attracted leading tennis players from around the world to compete for the biggest purse available in wheelchair tennis. Steve Welch of the United States won $5,500 for his victory in men’s singles. The Lakeshore Foundation’s own Scott Douglas teamed up with Steve Welch to win the doubles title. In the Quad Division, Rick Draney won his third consecutive World Challenge Singles title, and the team of Rob Sanders and Chris Studwell were the doubles champions. Sharon Walraven of Holland won $2,500 for her victory in women’s singles. The Lakeshore Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and ROHO Incorporated were the tournament sponsors.

The Sporting Clays Challenge continues to grow to attract both physically disabled and non-disabled shooters alike. This year’s tournament, held at Selwood Farm in Alpine, Ala., was a huge success, with 39 teams participating in the event. The $1,000 prizewinners were Mickey Roy of Bessemer and Randy Stone of Birmingham. Mickey also captured the title for the second year in a row for the 5 Stand Super Shoot. Joe Pendergast of Key Largo, Fla. had the Overall Best Score among the shooters with disabilities. The event attracted 23 national sponsors and contributors, and five local sponsors and contributors. The title sponsor of the event was Safari Club International Alabama Chapter.

Seven Alabama Sports Stars were recognized at the Twelfth Annual Sington Trophy Dinner. Special achievement awards were given to Samford University’s Jimmy Tillette and the Samford Men’s basketball Team, and to National Hot Rod Association Prop Stock Motorcycle Racer - John Myers. University of Alabama at Birmingham tennis player and NCAA All-American Mirela Vladelescu was the Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year. The Auburn University Men’s Basketball Team was honored as Collegiate Male Athletes of the Year. Quad rugby player and wheelchair track competitor Bryan Kirkland was Wheelchair Athlete of the Year. Coach of the Year Honors went to Cliff Ellis, Auburn University Head Men’s Basketball Coach. Terrell Owens, a young superstar wide receiver for the San Francisco Forty Niners, was Professional Athlete of the year. The dinner was sponsored by Hoar Construction. Winners were selected by the Alabama Sportswriters Association.

Coming Up!
Two very special Kids Night events are coming up in January with wheelchair basketball demonstrations at both Samford University and Huntingdon College. Watch for our next calendar of events, or call (205) 868-2281 for details.

The Lakeshore Foundation is working with area congregations to develop Respite Care Ministries for children. St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Vestavia is offering "Kid’s Night Out" on the first Friday of each month. Their goal – to give dedicated parents a little break. Call (205) 989-7890 for more information.

Turning Disability Into Ability

The 1999 Lakeshore Foundation Holiday Card

An inability to control the movement in your arms might seem like a curse for an artist, but for Christine Lanier it was the beginning of a distinctive style that had earned her recognition as an artist. Chris, who has Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.), is the artist behind this year’s Lakeshore Foundation Holiday Card.

The mixed media piece, entitled Peace Everywhere, is primarily a finger- painted project of acrylics, metallic powder watercolor and some colored pencil. Instead of fighting the tremors in her arms caused by M.S., Chris says she has learned to use it in her art.

"I almost quit painting because of these severe tremors, but then I begin a series that I call ‘Tremors’ and I have just sold two paintings to Johnson & Johnson’s Corporate Gallery," Chris says. "I incorporated the tremors into my artwork, and it evidently worked, because it sold. I’ve actually been painting more lately."

The Holiday Card Project gives business and individuals the opportunity to send a personalized greeting to friends, customers and colleagues while supporting the many programs of the Lakeshore Foundation. For custom orders of 200-499, the price per card and plain envelope is $1.10. For orders of 500 or more, the price is $1.00. Envelopes with a return address on the back are available for a $45 set-up charge. The deadline for custom orders is November 10. The Foundation’s 1999 Holiday Card is available through the Foundation’s offices at (205) 868-2303 or in state toll free 888-868-2303.

Hunting Season
If you enjoy the outdoors and welcome a challenge to your skills, you may want to take advantage of more than twenty hunts offered each year through the Lakeshore Foundation. The Foundation’s Hunting Program, a component of the Outdoor Adventure Program, offers opportunities for people with physical disabilities to develop their hunting skills, learn about safety in hunting, and receive assistance with adaptive equipment and accessibility.

You don’t have to be an experienced hunter to participate, according to Wynn Lynch, Director of Outdoor Adventure. "It is as easy as making a phone call. When a person with a physical disability calls us to express an interest in our hunting program, we immediately set up a consultation to evaluate the individuals abilities and goals." Among the assessments that are made: the client’s physical ability and what adaptive equipment is necessary for participation. Adaptive technology plays a major part in the program, with some hunters requiring specialized triggers, shooting rests or recoil pads.

Certified therapeutic recreation specialists, who are experienced hunters, coordinate the program to create a safe environment in which to learn new skills. For many, the program actually begins at the Lakeshore Foundation’s rifle/archery range, where adaptive equipment is put to the test.

The Lakeshore Foundation eases 2,000 acres of prime hunting land, with the help of Steve May and Delany Development, which is specially suited for hunters with disabilities. The land is located near Livingston, Ala., and thanks to strict management practices, offers great opportunities for a trophy buck.

"The Lakeshore Foundation’s program has been a great success. Everything is completely accessible. They are providing quality hunting for people with physical disabilities who normally do not have opportunities," says John Ramsey, President of Disabled Sportsmen of Alabama.

Letter From The President
Dear Friends: One of the greatest ways to tell the Lakeshore Foundation’s story is through the people we serve. The humor, determination and depth of feelings that comes through when someone speaks about the rewards and challenges they have encountered through our program, is the best possible way to demonstrate our mission.

The people you’ll encounter in this issue of Soaring Spirit show us that there is no "typical" person with a physical disability. And in sharing their experiences with us, we hope that others will be motivated to try something new and push the boundaries of their own lives.

Listen closely to the stories of 13-year-old Faith Hogue, who has declared this as the summer of her independence, and to 81-year-old Roy Vincent , who found friendship in the healing waters of our swimming pool. Laugh with Roy and his buddies, Bea and June, as they poke gentle fun at one another. And find out why a healthy respect for each other’s athletic abilities led to a permanent partnership for Ronda Jarvis Ray and her husband Joe.

Their stories are a reminder to all of us that our purpose at the Lakeshore Foundation goes far beyond fitness, competition and community involvement. Indeed, our reason for being extends beyond those we serve directly to encompass the entire community, whose "changing attitudes" are our real mission. We hope your reading of this issue will be enjoyable.


Jeff Underwood

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to read the September 1999 issue of Soaring Spirit

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