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When Donna McCormick was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1995, she did what few people in her situation would do—help others with the disease. After taking up yoga as a means to maintain mobility and flexibility, McCormick started teaching the practice to both adults and children with disabilities, knowing the positive impact it would have on them as well as herself. She continued to teach the practice, even after losing her ability to walk unaided three years after her diagnosis. Eventually, the progression of her disease and loss of mobility prevented her from both practicing and teaching, but McCormick still serves as a political activist for others with disabilities.
Now, McCormick is on the receiving end of her generosity. To help her regain the mobility and independence lost during the last 17 years, the nonprofit organization Ability Found is providing her with a power wheelchair and other assistive equipment free of charge.
“I can’t walk a straight line, even with a walker,” said McCormick. “By 3 p.m. in the afternoon I am exhausted from using the walker all day, and struggle even more to get around.”
McCormick has been using a walker the last few years, and avoiding the transition to a power wheelchair largely due to her dire financial situation. She has incurred a large amount of debt by paying out-of-pocket for many of the essential medical treatments and equipment that aren’t covered by her insurance.
“Our first goal for Donna is to make her mobile, independent and safe in her home,” said Michael J. Workman PT of Ability Found. “Secondly, we want her to have the ability to leave home and socialize, enabling her to have a higher quality of life.”
In order to do so, Ability Found is providing McCormick with a free ‘group 2’ power wheelchair for in-home activities, ramps for her to get in and out of her house, a manual chair to assist in transportation and bathroom equipment to provide stability and ensure safety. McCormick, who has been confined to sleeping on her couch for the last few years, is also scheduled to receive a ceiling lift in her bedroom so she can sleep in her own bed again.
McCormick’s agreement with Workman is to use her walker as much as she can in the morning while she still has energy, allowing her to maintain muscle use and flexibility in her extremities, and use her wheelchair when she begins to feel tired. The two are confident that their plan will provide McCormick with the independence necessary for her to stay in her home, where she lives alone with her dog Pepper.
“I’ve always been pretty independent,” said McCormick. “But I can’t thank Ability Found enough for helping me regain the independence I’ve lost from MS. The ability to live in my home with my dog, and be able to go out and socialize means the world to me.”
Ability Found is a nonprofit organization that provides wheelchairs and assistive equipment to people with disabilities who can’t afford them. Established in 1993, Ability Found relies entirely upon donations to purchase and refurbish the wheelchairs and equipment they donate. In 2011, the organization donated 92 percent of its $1.2 million income to charitable purposes.
For more information and to donate to Ability Found, visit AbilityFound.org or Like them on Facebook at Facebook.com/AbilityFound