Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune) Donna McCormick was diagnosed with MS several years ago. She didn't despair, but instead started working with other people with physical disabilities. She was awarded an electric wheelchair by a nonprofit group as a reward for her work. She is photographed in her home in Woods Cross, Utah on June 30, 2012.
Nonprofit group gives Woods Cross woman her energy, freedom back

Nonprofit group Ability Found gives woman her energy, freedom.

First Published Jul 05 2012 10:39 am • Last Updated Oct 30 2012 11:31 pm

Donna McCormick believes in spinach-rich green smoothies, the friendship of animals, and civic engagement.

Most of all, she believes in doing good to others and keeping a positive attitude.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"Always keep smiling," she said. "You just do for others what you can, whether that’s cooking or gardening or [smiling]."

A Wood Cross resident for nearly three decades, McCormick is actively involved in the community, including serving on two independent living boards and the Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities. A local and national advocate, McCormick lives and works daily with the added challenge of multiple sclerosis, a progressive disease that affects the central nervous system and results in impaired walking ability, muscle spasms and other painful symptoms.

But McCormick recently received a motorized wheelchair from Murray-based nonprofit Ability Found that will help restore some of her freedom and energy.

McCormick said although myriad challenges still exist, the June gift has been a blessing.

"Having [the wheelchair] to use helps me to not overexert myself, so it makes it so I can get through my day a whole lot easier," she said.

Ability Found’s mission is to provide medical and rehabilitation equipment free of charge to people with disabilities who cannot afford it. People are prevented from getting equipment themselves for reasons including lack of insurance and inability to afford a copay, said CEO and founder Ernie Robison.

A biomedical engineer and father to a disabled son, Robison started the foundation in 1993 with his wife after recognizing the need for enabling equipment through his son.

"I saw how my son plus others couldn’t get the equipment they needed," Robison said. "I saw the frustration that parents and individuals go through when they want to do something and can’t."

story continues below
story continues below

The group, which donated more than $1 million in equipment last year alone, works with service providers like the University of Utah Rehabilitation Center and Primary Children’s Hospital, who apply to the foundation on behalf of a client. The nonprofit then assesses client needs and works to find the correct equipment, either from donated items or by using cash donation to refurbish items.

Robison said the organization maintains a donation ratio of turning every $1 donated into $3 toward the cause and does a real service to people, who are in turn willing to help out others.

"Sometimes people won’t be able to get [what they need] for only $100 or $150…then later on they can donate back if they desire," he said. "It’s really a good service [and] very fulfilling to me to see miracles in lives."

McCormick, who was referred to the nonprofit by the MS Society and lives alone with her dog Pepper, said she plans to continue the cycle by pointing others toward the organization.

"Ability Found has been very helpful and personally is a godsend for me," McCormick said. "But what’s more important is if I run across people that might need help, it’s another resource for me to refer somebody to."

Michael J. Workman, owner of Professional Therapies and a contracted physical therapist with Ability Found, said donations allow recipients to save their money and insurance benefits for other expenses, as benefits only cover one wheelchair every five years.

"It gets extremely tricky from a therapy standpoint [to] take a lady like Donna who has a progressive disease…and have a wheelchair that works now and in three years," Workman said. "In Donna’s case, we’ve…shaved off the amount of time for her to use her wheelchair benefit [and] donated a chair that will tide her over for the time being."

A standard motorized wheelchair like Donna’s costs about $5,000, while other styles can reach up to $30,000 depending on specifications.

Workman said reactions to donations from Ability Found are generally positive, but at times it can also be hard for clients to accept the equipment — and their need for it.

"[Clients] are very appreciative to the point of tears…but it’s a conflicting thing. I’m never sure why people are crying," he said. "It’s overwhelming for them and we just try to support as best we can."

The group is particularly in need of specially equipped vans to donate and accepts a variety of equipment, although as an eBay-registered charity, it also encourages interested parties to sell items online and donate the proceeds directly.

Living with MS provides daily challenges for McCormick that others may overlook, such as climbing into bed. For several years, McCormick has slept in a reclining couch, but she hopes to be able to sleep in her own bed soon with the help of other assistive equipment, such as a ceiling-anchored lifting device.

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.