Donald is a former Lassiter cheerleader who was paralyzed from the neck down in March 2005, when she was struck by her father’s car in a freak accident while she was sun-tanning in her driveway. In the nearly eight years since her accident, Donald has turned her disability into triumph and raised more than $500,000 through her foundation, which focuses on the lives of individuals with spinal cord and brain injuries.
Magician K.C. Roberts will also be in attendance for Saturday’s benefit, along with musician Adam Komesar. Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q is catering the event, which will begin at 11:30 a.m. Admission is free and no RSVP is required.
“We raised just under $30,000 last year,” said the 29-year-old Donald. “Hopefully, we can get a lot of support from the community and raise even more.”
Community involvement is the reason the foundation got off the ground in the first place. According to Donald, her neighbor, Woody King, and his friends inspired the idea behind the magic show and auction to raise money.
King, who was suffering from lung cancer, and Donald were talking one day, and while exchanging each of their stories, a friendship started to develop.
Donald’s spirit and enthusiasm, given her condition at such a young age, inspired King to do something to assist his neighbor. So, with some help from his friends — including Gonzalez — who would periodically meet at a bagel shop near Lassiter, King developed a fundraising idea to get Donald and her family some of the help she needed.
Gonzalez, like McDowell and Isakson, a second-term Republican, lives in east Cobb, not far from Lassiter. Gonzalez’s children also attended Lassiter.
The group used their connections to start the magic show and auction in 2006. A couple of years later, Donald no longer needed all of the money raised from the event. But instead of abandoning the idea all together, she started a non-profit charitable organization, hoping to raise money for others who were in the similar position she was.
“I saw my friends running out of money and not getting therapy,” said Donald, who, despite her paraplegic state, graduated from Kennesaw State in 2008. “So, I said, why not have the money that’s raised go to them.”
With the assistance of family, friends and community involvement, the foundation was established in 2008. Its focus is on granting financial and moral support for individuals with spinal cord and brain injuries to participate in approved therapy programs which are not covered by insurance.
“It’s going to be a real good event, and we have great auction items,” Donald said. “We have 50 people on a waiting list nationwide in need of equipment and help to get themselves to continue working on their recovery. Our support makes a difference in their lives.”
More information on the foundation can be found online at www.dreamsofrecovery.org.