In 1989, the Allen County Society for Crippled Children and Adults, Inc. was officially renamed the Turnstone Center for Disabled Children and Adults. A little known fact is that the Turnstone name was inspired by a small, calico-colored sandpiper – a bird called a “ruddy turnstone.” This little bird inhabits most of the globe – including along the many lake shorelines of the Midwest.
A ruddy turnstone finds food by moving stones with nearly any part of its body. When an object is too heavy for this diminutive bird to move alone, other ruddy turnstones gather to assist. This pocket-sized bird embodies the spirit of Turnstone and the children and adults served.
At Turnstone, children and adults learn not only to overcome their disabilities by adapting their bodies to perform many of the daily functions others take for granted – but also to thrive and to compete in athletics in an inclusive environment. When a disability is difficult to surmount or a Paralympic athlete seeks to train for competition, Turnstone's teachers, athletic trainers, therapists, coaches and volunteers gather to support and to encourage.
As we look back at last year's highlights – including but not limited to hosting 700 international athletes from more than 40 countries at the 2019 International Blind Sports Federation's Goalball & Blind Judo International Qualifier (Fort Wayne's largest international event to date and the first of its kind in the United States) – we are reminded of the words of Helen Keller, who said: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Without the support and encouragement of this community, Turnstone simply could not do what it does; that is, create possibilities through the empowerment and inclusion of individuals with disabilities.
In support of this mission, hundreds of individuals of all ages volunteer thousands of hours every year at our athletic and fundraising events as well as with our aquatic/rehabilitation therapies and fitness programs and with our adult day and child care services. Our corporate and foundation sponsors such as AWS Foundation and Parkview Health, among many others, donate significant, critical funding for operations. Turnstone is one of the more than 200 non-profits Parkview partners with every year, as discussed in an Oct. 27 Journal Gazette article written by Mike Packnett, the health system's CEO. It is uniquely laudable that Parkview also provides substantial in-kind programming and Paralympic athlete support services such as access to Parkview Physicians Group primary care physicians, nutrition counseling, sports psychology services, athletic trainers and other educational opportunities through the Parkview Sports Medicine Program. This in-kind support is all the more notable because of the exceptional quality of these programs and collaborative spirit in which they are donated.
All of these exemplary individuals and organizations are champions – champions of Turnstone, champions of our clients, families and athletes, and champions of community health generally. As we look confidently forward to 2020, we feel abundantly blessed and supported by the many wonderful “ruddy turnstones” in this community.
Together we move these stones.
Mike Mushett is CEO of Turnstone, and Tom Trent is chairman of the Turnstone Board of Directors.