WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — For more than 15 years, this week’s ‘Hometown Hero’ has been providing kids and adults in Palm Beach County with free medical equipment.
It started as a hobby for Owen O’Neill, collecting donated items in the back of his truck and taking them to local clinics where they could be redistributed to people in need, but then in 2005 he officially brought Clinics Can Help to life.
Since then, the nonprofit has helped more than 18,000 people in the community including Trenise Jackson who just celebrated her 22nd birthday.
Her mom Tremesa says she continues to beat the odds.
“Trenise was born at six and a half months, and she only weighed one pound eight ounces and one doctor didn’t really give her a chance to live, but here she is 22 years later,” Tremesa said.
Their family first started receiving support from Clinics Can Help when Trenise was in middle school. They were provided with everything from proper undergarments to wheelchairs meeting her specific needs.
“There’s not a lot out there for children with special needs or young adults with special needs,” Tremesa explained. “It’s like a gap where they have everything for elementary and some middle school kids, but once they get to high school it’s really different.”
Owen also pointed out that these children with special needs are just like every other child in that they grow, but for them it can be very expensive.
“They outgrow the very expensive equipment, and they need more, and a family could go broke just buying medical equipment its heartbreaking,” Owen said.
As a hospice nurse for many years, Owen saw a big need to recycle medical equipment that was no longer needed.
He also saw a growing number of people who could benefit from those items.
“When you have a wheelchair or a hospital bed with side rails that pull up and prevent you from falling out of bed or prevent you from having any kind of injury to your hip or head, you are protected from that injury and can get better faster,” Owen explained.
The organization doesn’t turn anyone away and while their warehouse is filled from top to bottom, Owen says they are always accepting donations because the need is always there.
“The goal is to make sure everyone has the appropriate medical equipment they need for their mobility, their independence, and their dignity.”
As for Trenise and her family, they say they are very grateful to Owen and Clinics Can Help for supporting them all these years.
“Just having somebody there to help us along with the process has been a huge blessing because inclusion means a lot and a lot of people don’t get that unless they have a child with special needs,” Tremesa said.
The organization helps close to 800 kids a year and one of the biggest ways they do that is through their annual golf tournament which specifically supports their ‘Kinder Project’ – providing medical equipment and supplies to children with special needs in Palm Beach County.
This year’s 9th Annual Charity Golf Classic is taking place on October 20th at Banyan Cay Resort & Golf.
If you’d like to learn more about the tournament or how you can donate, just visit the Clinics Can Help website.