Gannon University Faculty and Students Secure Grant for Special Wheelchairs to Provide Community Beach Access

Posted: August 4, 2018

The Erie Community Foundation has awarded grants totaling over $4.6 million to 18 Erie non-profit groups. The Erie Community Foundation (ECF) is a collection of over 700 charitable endowments operating under the administrative umbrella of a single public charity. A portion totaling over $6,000 has been awarded to the Erie County Chapter of the Twilight Wish Foundation. Twilight Wish Foundation is a national organization whose mission is to honor and enrich the lives of deserving older adults.

Gannon University Doctor of Physical Therapy students and faculty member, Julie Hartmann, have engaged with the Twilight Wish Foundation to provide access to Presque Isle State Park beaches for older adults and for those individuals with disabilities. The grant received will go toward the purchase of two beach wheelchairs and one Mobi-chair, which is a special wheelchair designed to go into the water. These new chairs will complement the two beach wheelchairs that were purchased in 2013 with a similar grant from ECF in collaboration with the Twilight Wish Foundation.

Julie Hartmann, assistant professor of Gannon's physical therapy program and director of the Twilight Wish Foundation, explained the mission behind this initiative.

"The board of the National organization had tasked each chapter to seek out what was special in their area," said Hartmann. "The peninsula is a wonderful place for people to go. We know that so many people go down to the peninsula, drive around and look at the sunsets. We wanted those individuals to be able to access the beach and the water safely."

Through engagement with this local non-profit, Gannon University Doctor of Physical Therapy students and faculty member, Julie Hartmann, have helped provide mobility on Presque Isle to people who otherwise wouldn't be able to reach the beachfront.