A local program at the Habersham YMCA of Coastal Georgia is working to give people with spinal cord injuries a better quality of life. The program began in 2011 and was recently relaunched. Participants hope to expand the program with donations from the community.

Many of the participants were told they’d never walk again. Michael Mahany, a quadriplegic, is one of the founders of the program. In 2006, he lost function of his arms and legs when he fell off his dock and hit his head. He told News 3 that his life as he knew it was gone in an instant. 

He said, “it’s horrible to realize that you are totally dependent on others for everything. Getting dressed in the morning, bathing, eating. Early on, you get real depressed because you look at your situation. Coming here to the YMCA changed that.”

The group trains together four hours a week, motivating one another and promoting camaraderie. The program is $50 a month. Mahany told News 3 it’s a cost effective way to strengthen their minds and muscles.  

“You have an injury like this or a stroke, it’s financially devastating.  A quadriplegic like myself, out of pocket costs can be upwards of a million dollars a year.”

Johnny Bryant is another participant in the program. He said the doctors told him that he would never walk again after he slipped and fell on ice.  A fate, Bryant said, he doesn’t accept. 

“I didn’t believe it. I told my doctors, I didn’t believe what they were saying that I would never walk again because you never know what God has in store for you,” said Bryant.

The YMCA is looking to expand the program to include another group of six members. If you are interested in donating, call: 912-354-6223.