Recreation Therapy Benefits Motivate Donor to Support Program
Volunteer and donor Boynton Smith has been a familiar face at Shepherd Center for nearly 20 years.
Boynton Smith will always remember watching his first wheelchair basketball game at Shepherd Center.
“I thought they would be just wheeling up and down the court, passing the ball to each other,” he recalled. “Instead, it was this fast-paced game where the wheelchairs were flying up the court, and the players were aggressively stealing the ball and guarding each other. It was impressive.”
Basketball is one of the 11 competitive teams sponsored by Shepherd Center’s recreation therapy program, and Boynton Smith has been a steadfast supporter of the program for nearly 20 years, both as a volunteer and donor. The game solidified what Boynton quickly learned through his involvement with Shepherd: The Center is a place where patients are shown life beyond their injury and leave with the skills to assimilate back into the community.
“I think recreation therapy is Shepherd’s ‘secret sauce,’” he said. “It goes beyond medical care by showing patients how life goes on and the wonderful things they can do – maybe just in a different way.”
Boynton, a Texas native and an insurance broker with McGriff, Seibels & Williams, joined Shepherd Center’s Junior Committee in 1995. He had just moved to Atlanta and was looking for a place to get involved. A friend told him about the committee, a group of young professionals who come together to raise money for Shepherd Center’s recreation therapy program.
“The first time I walked through the doors, I knew Shepherd was a special place,” Boynton said. “And after nearly 20 years, I still get that feeling. It’s amazing to see the impact they have on their patients.”
While on the Junior Committee, Boynton volunteered at the 1996 Paralympic Games and the Wheelchair Division of the Peachtree Road Race, both of which Shepherd Center has sponsored. He co-chaired the Junior Committee’s signature event, Derby Day, in 2002. Even after he rotated off the committee – where he met his wife Elizabeth – he has stayed involved. He joined the Shepherd Center Foundation Board of Trustees in 2009 and now serves as its vice chairman.
“Boynton has been a familiar face at Shepherd Center for a long time,” said Ansley Martin, a major and planned gifts officer at Shepherd Center Foundation. “He is heavily involved and engaged in whatever the Foundation is doing, whether it’s attending events or volunteering with patients. He is truly an asset to Shepherd.”
“I like charities where it is a ‘hand up’ rather than a ‘hand out,’” he said of his reasons for supporting Shepherd Center all these years. “Shepherd is all about hope. They have amazing programs to deliver hope to patients and their families, and they get real results. Miracles happen there every day.”
Written by Sara Baxter
Photos by Gary Meek
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.