Students Donate Wheelchairs to NH Beaches

Jan 1, 2020

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Image DPT Students Donate Beach Wheelchairs to New Hampshire Beaches

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, DPT Student Adrienne Olney, New Hampshire State Parks officials, and Co-founders of SMILE Mass, Lotte Diomede and Susan Brown

Doctor of Physical Therapy students make a difference, creating access that did not previously exist on New Hampshire state beaches

When Franklin Pierce Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student Adrienne Olney and her peers in the class of 2018 learned that floating beach wheelchairs were not available on New Hampshire shores, the group made it their mission to purchase the equipment and donate it for the benefit of the disabled populations who visit Granite State beaches, but are denied access to the water because of a lack of accessibility equipment.  

Adrienne thought of the idea to fundraise for the chairs after being introduced to Small Miracles in Life Exist (SMILE Mass), a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization. Olney partnered with SMILE Mass Co-founders Lotte Diomede and Susan Brown to launch this fundraiser. SMILE Mass procured the chairs and will facilitate their upkeep.

“One of my favorite places to make summer memories with my daughter is at the beach,” Olney said. “It is unacceptable that other families do not have the same opportunity simply because this equipment is not available to them. As my peers and I move forward as professionals in the community, it is our duty to give back, take initiative, and think big,” Olney added.

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Image Hampton Beach lifeguards demonstrate use of the new beach wheelchairs

Hampton Beach lifeguards demonstrate use of the new beach wheelchairs

Over the course of six weeks, the students quickly raised more than $10,000, and on June 6, Adrienne—on behalf of her class and Franklin Pierce—and SMILE Mass donated five chairs to Governor Chris Sununu and the New Hampshire State Parks officials, who were in attendance at Hampton Beach State Park to receive the donation. Three chairs will remain at Hampton Beach, one will go to Mount Sunapee State Park and one to Wellington State Park.

“There are no words to describe what the donation ceremony meant to me! Seeing the result of all the hard work that was put into this project come to life was more than amazing. I can’t say enough ‘Thank you’s’ to all of the supporters who helped us along the way. I look forward to seeing photographs of the chairs being put to use, allowing everyone to share in the joy and healing nature of the beach,” Adrienne said after the donation ceremony.

“We are extremely proud of Adrienne and her class,” said President Kim Mooney. “This inspiring group exemplifies the greatest potential in a Franklin Pierce student, and given their impact on the state of New Hampshire as students, we can’t wait to see what they go on to do as professionals.”

Learn more about the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Franklin Pierce