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Fund-raiser keeps new horizons in mind

August 17, 2004|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Tim Berry wants people to know that life in a nursing home doesn't have to mean a ho-hum existence.

Berry, the administrator and regional director of Williamsport Retirement Village, said 10 to 15 of the nursing home and assisted-living facility's roughly 90 residents will go on a third annual trip to the beach in late September.

"People believe when they're coming into a nursing home that they've been to the ocean for the last time," Berry said. "It's great for them to keep on creating new memories, to let the ocean lap up on their shoes."

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Berry and 10 other employees of Williamsport Retirement Village set out Sunday, Aug. 15, at 3 p.m. from the Cushwa Basin at the C&O Canal National Historical Park in Williamsport for a bike-a-thon to raise awareness and funds for the two-day trip to Ocean City, Md. Williamsport Mayor John Slayman was present to kick off the event. Dubbing the fund-raiser Bike to the Beach, the group cycled about 13 miles to Fort Frederick State Park, where they met their company bus for a ride back to Williamsport.

Berry, who went along on the trip to the beach last year, said he wants to shed some light on the vacation because it's such a meaningful experience for residents.

"(Being at the ocean) does something to people. When they're out there watching the water come in, they relate in a different way," Berry said.

Williamsport Retirement Village provides three shifts of nurses and caretakers during the vacation. In past years, the vacationers have gone to Assateague Island, strolled the boardwalk, seen shows, posed for costumed pictures, munched on thrasher fries and participated in all manner of beach activities.

Berry said many of the residents use wheelchairs, which could pose an obstacle to getting to the water. However, this barrier is eliminated by accessing publicly available wheelchairs with balloon tires that allow staff to roll residents right up to the water's edge.

Meg Cliber, director of marketing at Williamsport Retirement Village, said the bike-a-thon raised about $3,300 through pledges, donations and sponsorships. The vacation - which is offered to all residents who are medically able to go - costs about $300 per resident for the hotel room, plus other costs such as dinner and recreational activities. While some residents and families chip in financially, Berry said if residents cannot pay for the trip, the retirement village picks up the costs.

Lori Sutton, director of activities at Williamsport Retirement Village, said she was out biking Sunday afternoon to show her support for the trip.

"It gets (residents) excited to know we're excited," she said.

Along with raising money, Berry said the group of cyclists hoped to "shed a positive light on senior issues."

"People think they go to a nursing home and get trapped, and it's not that way at all," he said.

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