Changing Lives through Limitless Possibilities
Words by Mary Alayne B. Long
I’m a humorist by nature, and most of what I write about is designed to make you laugh. But I’m a philanthropist at heart, and I love that Good Grit has given me the space to share the stories of so many amazing nonprofit groups here on these pages. One thing I really enjoy is being able to tell you about the lesser known groups that don’t get a whole lot of attention. I love writing about them because although they may be small—they’re doing big, important things.
In this issue, I want to introduce you to another small but mighty group called the Hank Poore Foundation (HPF). HPF was founded in 2020 by a group of family and friends with the goal of providing specialized support to people with disabilities. In three short years the things they’ve accomplished are simply inspirational. At HPF, they work together to provide a sense of connection, support, and empowerment for individuals living within the disability community, and they do a mighty great job of it too.
The inspiration for all of their work is none other than Hank Poore, a Tuscaloosa native who was born with cerebral palsy. Hank has had the opportunity to enjoy adaptive athletic programs, summer camps, and long term employment. While those things may seem pretty simple, they are huge for those living with disabilities and the ones who love them. That’s because they know all too well those opportunities aren’t always easy to come by. Hank and all of the staff and volunteers at HPF are determined to make all of those experiences (and more) readily available to people with disabilities. They not only host forums for discussion and connection but also work to provide support and resources within the community to enable these individuals to live a full and happy life.
At HPF, they model inclusivity along with compassion and know that the possibilities are endless when it comes to changing lives. The grants they have awarded over the last couple of years have been used to purchase many helpful items for a host of very worthy recipients. So far, they have supplied applicants with items such as an all-terrain wheelchair, a fully adaptive bike, a wheelchair seat elevator (that one person’s insurance wouldn’t cover—which makes me incredibly angry, but we don’t have room for that conversation here), a sports wheelchair for a young girl who’s so active she keeps tipping her regular chair over, and two “bellyaks” (which are kayak/paddleboard-style watercraft designed for use by those with lower extremity impairment) that were recently donated for community use at Lake Nicol. They also donated $10,000 to the adaptive playground in Tuscaloosa and have given informational books about disabilities to each school in the Tuscaloosa Public School System.
One way they raise funds is through their yearly “Ale on Wheels” fundraiser that takes place in Tuscaloosa each fall. It’s an evening filled with live music, great food, local beer, and it overflows each year with friends and neighbors who all come out to support such a great cause. At the inaugural event back in 2021, they raised over $60,000, and they’ve continued to receive support from many generous sponsors since that time. They divide their funds by putting one third toward individual grants, one third toward helping community funded projects, and one third toward future projects. They’ve even been approached about adding a second Ale on Wheels event in Birmingham, so keep an eye out for that.
Currently, their biggest dream is to bring adaptive waterskiing to Lake Tuscaloosa. With the determination and spirit they share with all their supporters, I know they will make that happen in the very near future.
For more information on the Hank Poore Foundation, to make a donation, or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, please visit hankpoorefoundation.org. You can find instructions for grant applications there as well.