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Sara Spins again with wheelchair for another UC student

UC put on "Ballin' for Abilities" to raise funds for next student's chair

by John Bach
January 2013

A second University of Cincinnati student is powering her way across UC's hilly campus in a brand new wheelchair thanks to Sara Spins, a nonprofit named for freshman Sara Whitestone.

Whitestone's friends helped her start Sara Spins in 2012 and fund the $12,000 power-assist chair she needed to maneuver her way to class. Once on campus, her story spread (thanks largely to this popular video), and Sara Spins quickly grew much bigger than its namesake.

Nobody can appreciate that fact more than Abbey Hunter, the interior design freshman in UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning who received the nonprofit's second power-assist chair Dec. 28, 2012.

"I don't know how to describe how I felt at the moment I found out Sara Spins had raised enough money to cover my chair," said Hunter. "So many people that I don't even know were willing to help me so that I could study at college with ease. I am ever so grateful."

Funding for the second chair was made possible in part by an October Ability Olympics event on campus sponsored by Sara Spins, Alpha Chi Rho and UC Disability Services.

Ballin' for Abilities

Sara Spins and UC's Student Government, which kicked in more than $1,200, put on Ballin' for Abilities Jan. 20, 2013, at the UC Campus Recreation Center basketball courts.

At the event, teams of seven donated $50 to compete in wheelchair basketball. Besides raising funds for Sara Spins, the event was designed to raise awareness for disabilities, a larger goal Whitestone helped accomplish by speaking in front of UC's Board of Trustees about her organization in the fall.

Ironically, both Hunter and Whitestone share far more than their need for a power-assist wheelchair. They were also both diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or POTS, a condition that causes chronic fatigue that often leads to fainting.

"It was amazing to meet someone at a big college who had the same rare condition," said Hunter. "I now know God put me here at UC for a reason."

Whitestone said she and Abbey met the very first day of fall semester, as she was rolling up UC's Mainstreet in her new power-assist chair.

"I can't imagine how much she struggled to get through last semester with her POTS," said Whitestone. "I really believe the wheelchair will help her tremendously. She's such a hard-working and talented student, and I'm so glad Sara Spins was able to support her to be able to stay here at UC."

Whitestone pointed out that student organizations on campus — particularly Pi Kappa Phi, Alpha Chi Rho and Alpha Sigma Phi — are starting to see their donations at work.

"I am extremely hopeful that we will continue to make our campus equal and inclusive to those with disabilities."

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