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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Local health care facility grants resident's 'wish' to go swimming

Friday, August 3, 2007

Laraine Smith (right) and another resident of The Waters of Greencastle enjoy an afternoon at the Greencastle Aquatic Center Wednesday. Smith, 34, has cerebral palsy and rarely is afforded the opportunity to get in the pool.
For two hours Wednesday afternoon, Laraine Smith could fly underwater.

The staff of The Waters of Greencastle nursing home brought Smith, who lives at the home, to the Greencastle Aquatic Center to swim with her mother as part of its ongoing effort to grant the "wishes" of its residents.

Smith, 34, has cerebral palsy, a neurological condition that prevents her from walking and hinders much of her muscle movement. As a result, she has been in a wheelchair for the last 25 years.

Her mother, Judy, used to take her swimming frequently but when Smith moved into The Waters, 1601 Hospital Dr., in early 2006, she thought she would never swim again, she said.

However, when Candy McMickle, the activity director for the Waters, and administrator Holly Wachtel heard about Smith's wish to swim with her mother, they had to make it come true, Wachtel said.

"It's all about enhancing somebody's quality of life," she said.

In previous years, The Waters staffers have set up airplane flights out of Putnam County Airport and boat rides for residents, McMickle said.

It had been so long since Smith had been in the water, she didn't even have a swimsuit, so Judy Smith bought matching black bathing suits for the two of them.

Staffers from The Waters lowered Smith into the pool and gradually helped stand her up in the water.

"I think everyone deserves a chance to feel young again," Smith said.

And watching Smith enjoy herself in the pool was also heartwarming for the staff, Wachtel said.

"A day like yesterday makes you realize that you're in the right profession," she said.

And for Smith, the occasion was so exciting that when she found out in June she would get to swim again, she wrote two poems about her love of water and beaches.

"Fly underwater!/Feet are splashing at the top!/ ... This is exciting!/ Jump into the pool!/ I can fly just like a bird!/ This is magical!" she wrote.

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