Local funding and district grants combine to support disabled students
By Jeremy Spilman
Harrisonburg, VA- Patrick O’Brien and Sam Polglase are two typical middle school students.  However, they took on an atypical project recently to help other students at their school who are less fortunate than themselves.  They started a fundraising effort to raise $20,000 for specialized equipment that helps provide students with multiple disabilities some physical activity.  The funds are to purchase a Quadriciser Therapy System for use in Janine Bailey’s Peer mentoring class at Montevideo Middle School in McGaheysville, VA.  The equipment will be used by students in this class for years to come.
Peer mentoring is, simply put, students helping other students.  O’Brien and Polglase signed up for the class as an elective last fall.  Students are tasked with helping peers with disabilities.  As part of a research experiment, JMU loaned Montevideo Middle School a Quadriciser Therapy System for use by the special needs students.  The machine is used for 30 minutes every day by students with multiple disabilities.  “The Quadriciser simulates walking for students unable to walk on their own”, Bailey said.  It also helps to loosen muscles, increases circulation, and generally improves the mental well-being of the user.  Patrick and Sam were able to collect data on the students using the machine over the course of the semester.  The study indicated a 52 percent improvement in the amount of steps the students were able to take.  According to O’Brien, the students using the therapy equipment loved it.  “It brings them so much joy” said O’Brien.
Ms. Bailey had applied for a $100,000 grant last fall, which the school did not receive.  This is when O’Brien and Polglase decided to raise the money themselves.  They arranged to present their project to several local civic groups to raise money towards their goal of $20,000.  The local rotary clubs of area 3 stepped in.  The Rotary club of Broadway-Timberville and the Rotary club of Harrisonburg-Massanutten were both able to provide some funding for the project.  In addition, the Harrisonburg Massanutten Rotary club has received approval for a district grant to match funding on the project for a total of $12,000 combined funding.  The Harrisonburg-Massanutten Rotary club has been looking for a local project for several years, which they could provide funding for.  Ideally the project would serve as a humanitarian aid to help local children.  The Quadriciser project filled this need in the community.  The Harrisonburg Massanutten Rotary club has several fund raisers each year, with one specifically designated to help fund projects such as this. 
O’Brien and Polglase are close to completing their fundraising goal as of the beginning of August.  However, they are still in need of approximately $2,000 to meet their fundraising goal.  For more information or to assist with fundraising on this project, please contact the Harrisonburg Massanutten Rotary Club at frank@fdmdj.com or 540-246-5649.