Trust fund helps South Georgians - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Trust fund helps South Georgians

April 20, 2003

Albany- Kiley Hays has a lot to smile about. The 23 year old proudly wears an engagement ring and will soon begin work on her master's degree, but she'll never forget the day she was put in this chair. "It happened in 1994, and I got shot," remembers Hays.

Hays ex-boyfriend shot her in the neck at the Pelham Christmas parade, leaving her with permanent spinal injuries. She is just one of dozens of South Georgians to attend a meeting held by the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission. The organization is traveling across the state to see what consumers need and how they can help.

"One of the biggest needs that we've heard as we travel around the state is the need for transportation. People with brain and spinal cord injuries do not really have accessible and affordable transportation that's available to them," says Executive Director, Kristen Vincent.

South Georgians like Hays say meetings like this are very helpful because services and equipment are limited and expensive. "I've learned a lot like places I could go to get information about other stuff that I've needed. So, I've learned a lot about things I really didn't know," admits Hays.

Fredricka Burnette works with disabled South Georgians every day, and says the money the trust fund can provide will go a long way.

"Things like Medicaid and Medicare are limited and agencies in the community are kind of limited in the services that they can provide, but with this additional resource with the trust fund and this additional money then they can buy things like vans and computers," adds Lion's Learning Center Director, Fredricka Burnette.

Hays admits she's lucky to have the support of family and friends. "I've made it. It hasn't been easy by any means but I've done it so I just keep on keeping on," smiles Hays. And she says organization like the commission are helping her do just that.

The Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission receives funding from a 10% surcharge for fines paid by Georgia DUI offenders. Since 1999, they have collected six million dollars.

If you want more information about how the commission can help you go to there website www.bsitf.state.ga.us.

Posted at 7:30 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com