Wheelchair-bound Morris drags weights to raise funds for disability programs

MARYSVILLE — "It only looks like a torture device," Scott Ballenger laughed, as he chained the large wooden box to Quinton Morris' wheelchair. "But it's really training technology."

Quinton Morris is cheered on by Marysville YMCA members as he carries 25 pounds of weights behind him for his 'Draggin' Dumbbells for Disabilities' fundraiser March 11.

MARYSVILLE — “It only looks like a torture device,” Scott Ballenger laughed, as he chained the large wooden box to Quinton Morris’ wheelchair. “But it’s really training technology.”

Ballenger is only half-kidding. As the adaptive fitness trainer and coordinator for the Marysville YMCA, he’s studied the training methods used by Paralympic athletes. He credited one of the Y’s senior members with taking a wooden pallet and turning it into a 15-pound wooden box.

“You need resistance to be able to train in a wheelchair,” said Ballenger, whose own disability requires him to use a wheelchair. “We attached carpeting to the bottom, though, so it won’t get stuck on the floor.”

Ballenger then loaded it with two five-pound dumbbells for Morris’ “Draggin’ Dumbbells for Disabilities” March 11. It had already generated $800 in donations before Morris began doing laps around the Y’s gym with the weights chained to his chair.

“There’s no coasting,” Ballenger said. “He’s pulling hard for every inch. I’ve done it myself, and your shoulders hurt by the time you’re done.”

Ballenger noted that the day’s other donations were based on the number of laps Morris completed, so the total amount raised was still being added up as of press time.

Morris is a man of few words, but the back of his T-shirt bore the message that the YMCA has helped him “in mind and spirit.” The 25-year-old believes his experiences at the Y, starting at age 18, have helped him remain positive.

Ballenger has seen Morris drag dumbbells for 20 laps in an hour, but he deemed this arduous task a natural outgrowth of the much-less demanding adaptive fitness training that he offers not only to Morris, but to those with disabilities ranging from teens to seniors.

“We routinely do a one-mile outdoor course with hills,” Ballenger said. “It includes not only mobility training, but also getting across the street safely. We serve a lot of adults with developmental disabilities at the Y, and we’re just as concerned with giving them the independent living skills they need.”

Ballenger pointed out that Morris has been the recipient of several fundraisers, as a young man with cerebral palsy, but this marks the second year that Morris has been able to generate donations for other disabled adults.

“This will pay for programs to serve those living with disabilities, even if they’re not members of the Y,” said Ballenger, who expected Morris would raise around $2,000. “A lot of our programs don’t require disabled people to join the Y, or they heavily subsidize their memberships.”

To donate to Morris’ fundraiser, call 360-653-9622.

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