Vt. rehab center receives special gift - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. rehab center receives special gift

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Fanny Allen Rehab in Colchester helps hundreds of Vermonters recover from spinal cord injuries, but the facility was missing a key piece of equipment.

That changed Wednesday when a local man made a donation that doctors say will touch thousands of patients.

With each swing of a bat the Travis Roy Foundation hopes to makes the lives of those with spinal cord injuries a little easier.

"We've been able to do a lot of things that I never imagined," said Travis Roy, the man who donated the medical equipment.

Roy was paralyzed in a freak accident during a college hockey game. Hundreds gather each August to play in a charity whiffle ball tournament in his name. Over the last decade the games at Little Fenway and Little Wrigley in Essex have raised millions of dollars.

"It started out as a very simple fundraiser and it has grown to be significant in the amount of people who attend, the amount of people who participate and certainly the amount of money that is raised," said Roy.

Players and donations come from across the country, but Roy says the foundation is always looking for ways to reinvest in the local community.

"So this is something that's going to help, not only future spinal cord injury patients but it's going to help thousands of patients moving forward," said Dr. Roger Knakal, Fletcher Allen Health Care rehab director.

Wednesday that commitment brought Roy and field owner, Pat O'Connor to Fanny Allen's Rehabilitation Center. They're donating a Dynamic Stair Trainer. It will help the facility's 700 patients re-learn to walk.

"What this piece of equipment allows us to do is to bring them in a wheelchair right up close to it and give them something really solid to hold onto and be able to work to be able to get up to standing and take those initial first steps," said Kerry Wood, physical therapist.

From there the trainer can transform itself into an adjustable set of stairs to help those in various stages of recovery. The trainer comes with a $17,000 price tag. The Travis Roy Foundation covered 95 percent of the cost.

"It's critical and your help gets that into our rehab now. So we just can't thank you enough," said Dr. Stephen Leffler from FAHC.

The partnership between the hospital and the foundation also means that these medical professionals will be trading their scrubs for whiffle ball uniforms this summer.

"And those of us who aren't so confident in our whiffle ball activities are going to volunteer," said Wood.

The tournament will be held the third weekend in August. Half the money raised goes toward research; the other half goes toward individual grants and special projects like this one.

Patients with spinal cord injuries can apply for grants ranging from $1,000 to $7,000.

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