Don’t Let the Wheels Fool You; Ellisor & Crew Take it to the Lake

William McCants, Rafe Ellisor and Ruby Burns enjoy a day at Lake Wateree during this month’s Splash Bash.

In 1989, a young man named Rafe Ellisor applied for employment at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital. Although he was turned down, he was also told to come back after he received his Master’s degree. Two years later, he did just that. In 1991, Ellisor went to work for HealthSouth and is now Patient/Family Counselor in the Neuropsychology Department, where he has been employed for the past 21 years.

Being in a wheelchair himself due to a spinal cord injury, Ellisor has compassion for those who are wheelchair bound and began to think of a way that he could bring joy to others in this condition. He saw no reason they could not do some of the same things that others did. And so he and a colleague formed a non-profit organization they call Fun4All. They take groups to baseball and basketball games, bowling, kayaking, fishing and on turkey hunts. Another special event arranged for these groups is the HealthSouth sponsored ‘Splash Bash’ that was held Sept. 15 of this year. This was the fifth year for this activity. Since one of the men involved is with the National Guard, he made arrangements for this event to be held at the Lake Wateree Recreation area of Shaw Air Force Base on the Camden side of the lake.

Many of those attending had never been on a boat, in the water or had even seen the lake before. Some of them were pulled behind boats in tubes and rafts; some swam, rode a jet ski, kayaked and fished. One young man caught a 19-pound striped bass and was so excited. This event is advertised by posters, word of mouth and notification to all healthcare centers and boards of special needs in the state. It is open to any special needs person aged 14 years and above. These are adapted sports and leisure activities for adults and young adults with disabilities. They have access to adaptive equipment for hunting and other wheelchair sports. The first year of this activity was attended by 15 consumers. This year was attended by 118 people with as many as 80 having to be turned away. Counting the 87 volunteers, the event was attended by close to 300 people. A variety of organizations and vendors were present and provided their expertise and services.

Ellisor is also on the board of the Babcock Center, which was one of the sponsors of the event. This center provides a place of residence for people with developmental and related lifelong disabilities. Some other sponsors, in addition to the primary sponsor HealthSouth, were PAALS (Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services), S.C. Spinal Cord injury Association, River Runners (who furnished the canoes), Hanger Prosthesis Company, DSS Medical Equipment and Bruce’s Brake King, to name a few.

Knowing of this event and seeing a chance for the residents of Fairfield Healthcare Center of Laurel Baye in Ridgeway to enjoy the day, Frances Maddox, Activity Director of the center, accompanied 15 to 20 of them to the lake for the day’s activities. You may recognize Ruby Burns, one of the residents seen in the photo, as the resident who carried the torch through the town of Ridgeway during the healthcare center’s August Olympics.

In order to put together such a day for these special people, it takes a lot of preparation from advertising, making posters and phone calls, setting up the events, getting the equipment to the site, busing in the participants and furnishing food since everyone was there from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This work is all done by caring and devoted folks who want to bring some happiness into the lives of others. Bless them all for what they do.