Individuals honored at first PossAbilities awards dinner
Eric Arrington (left) poses for a picture with Scott Sibley, CEO of the San Manuel Bottled Water Group, after receiving word that he will get an Outrider Arm Lift to be installed in the back of his pickup truck to lift his wheelchair for him.
He took six bullets in the back to save a friend’s life—and ended a promising professional football career. But the miracle is not in the doctors who operated on him; it’s in what Eric Arrington, now a paraplegic, has given back to his community, his family, and his church. For the past 15 years, this Rialto resident has devoted all his time, talents, and considerable energy to coaching football, counseling youth, and encouraging others who have suffered a disability. Described as a wonderful human being with a big heart, Eric Arrington has never looked back—never once complained about what life has dealt him.
Eric and seven other physically disabled individuals from the Inland Empire received life-enhancing scholarships from Loma Linda University Medical Center’
Leonard Castillo says thank you after learning that he will receive a hand-cycle that will help him achieve his weight loss goal and prevent the onset of Type II diabetes.
s PossAbilities program on Thursday, December 8. These include tuition for educational courses, adaptive recreational equipment, and a mobile lift. The other scholarship recipients are 36-year-old paraplegic Leonard Castillo of Colton; 42-year-old quadriplegic Wesley Farris from San Bernardino; 37-year-old paraplegic Haun Nguyen of Grand Terrace; 19-year-old paraplegic Edward Ramirez of Riverside; 19-year-old brittle bone disease victim Sarah Jaggers of Redlands; 18-year-old traumatic brain injury victim Adam Bendix of Moreno Valley; and 50-year-old post-polio victim Doug Vincent (95.1 KFRG disc jockey Doug “E” Frog). Each recipient shared a little bit of his or her story that evening.
Besides the awards given to PossAbilities members, a special recognition was made to San Manuel Band of
Wesley Farris (left) is awarded a scholarship for tuition and books by Mr. Sibley so Mr. Farris can continue his education at the master’s level for rehab counseling.
Mission Indians, who provide the scholarship funding through PossAbilities. San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and their local bottling company, Big Bear Mountain Water, presented a check for $100,000 to support the PossAbilities program. The awards program took place at the Mitten Building in Redlands.
“We’re really here to celebrate these individuals,” said Michael Jackson, MPH, administrator of the East Campus Hospital, of which PossAbilities is a part. “These people have not allowed their challenges to get in the way. Out of my 30-year career in health care, PossAbilities is the most inspirational program I have ever worked on.” Mr. Jackson thanked San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, who share a common belief with Loma Linda, in that they both feel that the communi
Scott Sibley (right), CEO of San Manuel Bottled Water Group, presents a check for $100,000 to Michael Jackson, MPH (left), senior vice president and hospital administrator for Loma Linda University Medical Center East Campus, on behalf of the Big Bear Mountain Bottled Water company and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.
ty is strongest when all the individuals within it get the support they need.
PossAbilities is a free program tailored to persons with physical disabilities. Its aim is to provide social, physical, mental, and spiritual activities to encourage the development of the whole person.
Part of the PossAbilities program includes the Rolling Bears wheelchair basketball team and the PossAbilities Quad Rugby team that both play at Drayson Center. Daniel Bunnel from the rugby team showed off the team’s new jerseys made possible by the support from San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and Big Bear Mountain Water.
“I just want to thank our sponsors and PossAbilities,” said Mr. Bunnel.
“This goes pretty deep for a lot of us. This opens up opportunities for relationships and friendships and to turn lives around. I hear first-time players say, ‘I haven’t had this much fun since I was hurt,’ and I’m like, ‘That’s it man! That’s what it’s all about.’”
Vivi Burns, director of PossAbilities, presided as mistress of ceremonies alongside master of ceremonies Willie Stewart, coordinator for the PossAbilities program.
“There’s no better way to fulfill Loma Linda’s mission ‘to make man whole’ than to help people reach their goals and fulfill their ambitions,” said Ms. Burns.
By Preston Clarke Smith
Sarah Jaggers, born with osteogenisis imperfecta or brittle bone disease, receives a scholarship to attend La Sierra University, where she is studying psychology.
Haun Nguyen thanks Mr. Sibley for the racing wheelchair provided by PossAbilities so the professor of mathematics could continue training and compete in triathlons.
Michael Jackson, MPH, remarked, “We’re really here to celebrate these individuals.”
Master of ceremonies Willie Stewart, coordinator for PossAbilities, welcomes everyone to the banquet December 8.
Adam Bendix, posing here with Santa Claus as played by Fabio Maia, received an adaptive recreational bicycle.
Eddie Ramirez admires his sports wheelchair that he will use to play wheelchair basketball with the Rolling Bears.
Santa brings an adaptive recreational bicycle to KFRG disc jockey Doug “E” Frog, a polio survivor who completed his first athletic event at the PossAbilities Championship Triathlon in March.
Vivi Burns, director of PossAbilities, presided as mistress of ceremonies, introducing each of the scholarship winners.