Doctor of Physical Therapy Students raise Funds for Beach Wheelchairs

February 8, 2017

Franklin Pierce University students are working hard to make a difference in the state of New Hampshire by making the state’s beaches and lakes accessible to those confined to a wheelchair.

When Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student Adrienne Olney and her peers in the class of 2018 learned that floating beach wheelchairs were not available on New Hampshire shores, the group made it their mission to purchase the equipment and donate it for the benefit of the disabled populations who visit Granite State beaches.

“One of my favorite places to make summer memories with my daughter is at the beach,” Olney said. “It is unacceptable that other families do not have the same opportunity simply because this equipment is not available to them. As my peers and I move forward as professionals in the community, it is our duty to give back, take initiative, and think big,” Olney added. 

Olney got the idea after being introduced to Small Miracles in Life Exist (SMILE Mass), a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization. Olney partnered with SMILE Mass President and Co-founder Lotte Diomede to launch this fundraiser. SMILE Mass will procure the chairs and facilitate their upkeep. 

“We are extremely proud of Adrienne and her class,” said President Kim Mooney. “This inspiring group exemplifies the greatest potential in a Franklin Pierce student, and given their impact on the state of New Hampshire as students, we can’t wait to see what they go on to do as professionals.”

The number of chairs purchased will depend on the scope of the funds raised. Through campus bake sales and an online fundraising page (view the donation page here), the group has raised more than $7,000 toward a $10,000 goal in less than two weeks.

Diomede will visit Olney and her class at the Franklin Pierce Manchester Center on Wednesday, February 8 at noon to bring them lunch as a “thank you” for their efforts.

"SMILE Mass is so honored to have met Adrienne. She is not only hardworking and smart, but her kind heart and desire to give back to others who are not as privileged as her is something she preaches every day, without even knowing. SMILE Mass would like to thank Adrienne and her whole class for helping us place floating beach wheelchairs on the beautiful beaches of New Hampshire," Diomede said.



                 An education that matters.

Franklin Pierce University is a regionally accredited university grounded in the liberal arts, with a focus on personal attention and high-quality instruction. The University consists of the College at Rindge and the College of Graduate & Professional Studies with locations in Arizona and throughout New Hampshire. Degrees are offered through the doctoral level. The institutional mission embraces an education that matters: one that achieves academic success through the integration of liberal arts and professional programs. Our community of educators and learners creates an environment that fosters intellectual curiosity and encourages experiential and applied learning. A Franklin Pierce experience enables each student to discover and fulfill his or her own unique potential. We prepare students to become confident, knowledgeable individuals and leaders of conscience.


Small Miracles in Life Exist (SMILE Mass) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing happy, healthy memories to families living with children or adults with disabilities. SMILE Mass’s mission is to create a day trip or a vacation opportunity without barriers by working with recreational facilities to provide accessible equipment and opportunities for anyone with mobility issues, and offer state of the art services to accommodate as many families as possible by maintaining facilities that meet Universal Design Standards. SMILE Mass has donated more than 100 chairs over the past five years with successful projects in Cape Cod, Boston’s North and South shores, as well as to town lakes in Harvard, Natick, New Bedford, Sharon and Wayland, Mass. Current fundraisers are underway for projects in Martha’s Vinyard, Nantucket and Ontaria (Canada), New Hampshire and more.


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