Longtime Augustan Phil S. Harison Sr. had a personal passion to ensure that accessible housing and community supports were available for persons with disabilities after a life-changing accident or injury.
OVER NEARLY A decade, he led the Walton Foundation for Independence as its board chairman, leaving a legacy that still continues to benefit those with disabilities in the CSRA today: including Harison Heights, a supported living facility tailored for persons with disabilities, where the average age is 44; Helping Hands, a fund that provides patient support after discharge from a rehabilitation facility, including medications and assistive technologies after a catastrophic injury; and adaptive sports programs, such as adaptive golf and wheelchair tennis, providing much needed exercise and social interaction.
His spirit also continues today through the Phil S. Harison Memorial Golf Classic, now in its 21st year. This annual fall event (held this year on Sept. 16) supports the many programs of the Walton Foundation for Independence, including those named above and many, many more – all with a goal of helping people with disabilities live, work and play successfully in the CSRA.
SO MANY BARRIERS still exist today. Accessible housing can be hard to find and costly to renovate, and there are long waiting lists for those that are available. Transportation also is difficult, frustrating and costly. Work is hard to find when your disabilities limit you from working for extended periods of time – or when employers can’t see your abilities past the wheelchair.
Then there’s the loneliness – when you don’t work or if transportation is difficult, social interaction can be hard to come by.
Events such as the Harison Golf Classic give local business owners such as Mr. Harison the opportunity to make an incredible difference in the lives of people with disabilities. Become a sponsor; sign up a team; volunteer to help in other ways; or make a donation – there are so many ways to help.
Your support can help build a ramp so someone can more easily navigate in and out of their home. It can provide work readiness skills to get someone back to work after an injury. It can buy sports equipment so our volunteer coaches can grow our sports clinics. It can do so much to make life more independent.
THE TRAGEDY OF catastrophic injury is that it most often happens to young people in the prime of their lives. After they are discharged from the hospital, what do they do next? That’s where the Walton Foundation steps in.
But we can’t do it alone. Phil S. Harison left a wonderful legacy and example for all of us. With your support, let’s work together to make a real difference for our friends and neighbors living with disabilities.
(The writer is vice-president of the Walton Foundation for Independence.)