Sunnyside Helps Member Move Forward

June 02, 2015 | Warren Rushold

Imagine this: You have just graduated from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tenn., with a bachelor’s degree in social work in 2013. You are enrolled to start studies in the fall toward your master’s in social work. While bicycling with a friend, you crash, fracturing your cervical spine (C3/C4). Lying on the ground in pain, unable to move, life seems to be over.

Well, only if you give up. And Alex Buchanan is not giving up.

After stays in a regional trauma center in Chattanooga, Tenn., then a spinal rehab facility in Atlanta, Ga., Buchanan is now home in Portland, Ore., being supported by his family, friends, Sunnyside Church family and therapists at Adapt Therapy. Buchanan is intent on resuming his education after his rehab has made significant progress and is on his way, but it's a steep hill to climb.

Besides medical issues two primary challenges are: 1) the cost of therapy, and 2) the availability and cost of transportation. Buchanan’s parents, Carl and Rose Buchanan, found a used wheelchair-accessible van, but it was not going to be a long-term solution. Enter his Sunnyside Church family.

In the fall of 2014, Sunnyside Church member Carl Haggerty (a fellow member of Carl and Rose’s Sabbath School class) had just done a fundraising auction for his father in New York. Later, at a church potluck, he was talking with Dick Gingrich, Family Resource Network chairman, and the thought of a fundraiser for Buchanan was discussed. They agreed to see if such an event could be put together. Haggerty and his wife, Becky, went to work.

The Moving Forward Dinner and Auction was held at the Sunnyside Church on March 8. Goals were: 1) provide a fun, no-guilt support event for Buchanan and the church’s Family Resource Network, 2) help Alex with the expense of therapy and a newer accessible van and 3) raise $30,000 toward these ends.

Dinner included salad and breadsticks donated by Olive Garden, lasagna made by Lloyd Wescott and a “dessert dash.” Dinner was served by the Pathfinder club and coordinated by Sally Miller. The desserts were made or purchased by church members; tables of attendees sent one of their seatmates to the dessert table to make their choice in the order of their dessert dash bids — the high bid got first choice and so on.

A silent auction was browsed by attendees before dinner, and bids were placed for favorite items. After dinner a paddle-raise live auction was conducted by volunteer auctioneer Gale Crosby, Oregon Conference vice president of education. Included in the auction was the chance to sponsor specific parts of Alex’s van, like the steering wheel, tires, headlights, taillights and/or body control module (door-lock system). Also available at the auction was a three-day Tesla rental.

The event was a smashing success: $40,000 was raised, including $13,000 in table sponsorships. The attendees had a great time, Alex and his family, along with the Family Resource Network, appreciate everyone's generosity. The church family continues to pray Buchanan’s therapy will progress and he can resume his educational goals.