August 30, 2010 was just a typical hot, summer night for South Walton local, Allison Harasin. The twenty-two year old was enjoying a swim in the family pool at their home in Seacrest.
Suddenly, something went awry. As Allison dove into the pool, she slipped off the pool’s loose ladder, breaking her C5 and C6 vertebrae in her fall. She was instantly paralyzed from the waist down. Fortunately, she was able to hold herself up as she screamed for her brother Kevin to help her get out of the pool. He held her until the paramedics arrived, and she was rushed to Bay Medical Center.
Things quickly spiraled downward even further during the next several weeks. Allison was put in an induced coma, and developed pneumonia. Not soon after, pressure sores occurred, creating additional life-threatening issues. It rapidly became a daunting period for Allison.
“It was all a blur, I lost an entire month of my life,” she said.
Allison was transported to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, where she went through surgery and intense physical therapy. After close to six months at the spinal injury hospital, the tables turned, and Allison started to get a grip back on her life.
“I realized there can be a life after spinal cord injury,” Allison said.
With the support from family and friends, Allison’s life started coming back together when she returned home. Then, in 2013, she acquired adaptation equipment for her van, enabling her to become more mobile.
Growing up in South Walton, Allison attended Bay Elementary and graduated from South Walton High School. She is thankful of the support she has received.
“I’m so grateful for the support from my family, friends, and community. I don’t think I would be where I am without them,” Allison said.
Not long ago, Allison was reading a story on an online quadriplegic forum. It was about a specially designed paddle board called an Onit Ability Board. The board provides the ability for wheelchair bound individuals to get out on the water, and paddle. Allison was hoping one day she could get out again, and the Onit Ability Board was the answer.
This past June, Allison was attending a fundraiser event in Rosemary Beach with friend and former teacher Constance Rogers.
“Constance and I were at the Walk Her Way fundraiser for battered women in Rosemary Beach, and we were discussing having a fundraiser of my own so I could buy the board. She took my friend’s son to go get a balloon animal and when she came back she said, ‘Your board is taken care of, as long as they remain anonymous!’ I still do not know exactly what happened, but I am so grateful to whoever bought that board for me!”
“Our community has so many people with incredible love in their hearts who give of their time and money. I didn’t do anything at all but have a conversation. The rest came from Allison’s anonymous angel,” said Constance Rogers.
Allison’s first excursion on the ability board was a paddle out to the Choctawhatchee Bay with assistance from her brother Kevin and friends Walt Hartley and Jack Foley.
“I was apprehensive at first, I had butterflies in my stomach. Once we were out there though, it was amazing,” said Allison.
Allison looks forward to getting back out on the water again soon, and enjoying more ‘paddle board therapy’!
About the Onit Ability Board
An Onit Ability board is a modified 11’6″ stand up paddle board with outriggers. The board is fabricated in fiberglass, bamboo wood, and polystyrene. It comes equipped with an all-terrain surf chair with a custom locking mechanism, and a 9′ portable aluminum ramp. Learn more about the ability board at www.onitabilityboards.org.