Click on link below to see Allison Ball, a Hardin-Simmons University physical therapy student, in a promotional video for Joni & Friends, a foundation to raise money and awareness about disabilities. Ball also was invited to speak to donors to the foundation in October.
Click on link below to learn more about funding a Hardin-Simmons University mission trip to Peru.

By Loretta Fulton

Appearing in a fundraising video for a foundation that advocates for people with disabilities and speaking to a donor meeting in California came naturally to Allison Ball, a second-year student in the Hardin-Simmons University physical therapy program.

She knew firsthand what she was talking about. Ball’s brother suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car wreck when he was younger. Now a student a McLennan Community College, he is doing well. But the experience left Ball with a desire to help people in similar situations, so it was no wonder that she was the perfect person to be an advocate.

“A lot of it, I could relate to,” Ball said.

Ball, from Arlington, was invited in October to fly with her husband to California to talk to donors to Joni & Friends, a foundation started by Joni Eareckson Tada, who in 1967 suffered a diving injury that left her a quadriplegic. In 2010, she suffered another setback when she was diagnosed with breast cancer but today still keeps an active ministry schedule.

The Hardin-Simmons Department of Physical Therapy partners with Joni & Friends to offer a course titled, “Beyond Suffering.” According to the Joni & Friends website, people with disabilities are considered one of the world’s largest under-represented groups. One of the primary goals of the “Beyond Suffering” is to address this issue by preparing leaders in ministry, education, medicine and science to become involved in this life-changing ministry.

The course shows what disability ministry looks like, Ball said. One thing she learned is that most churches are not prepared to welcome people with disabilities.

“That was  a surprise to me,” she said.

“Beyond Suffering” is taught is six one-hour sessions in the Hardin-Simmons program. The course ended in June and was followed by students participating in a family camp near Houston and then in a mission trip to Peru.

In October, Ball was invited to speak to the Joni & Friends donors in California about that trip and to appear in a promotional video. The summer trip to Peru was a first for Ball. She had been on a mission trip to Louisiana as a high school student but had never been on a trip like the one to Peru. That kind of opportunity was a draw for her when deciding which physical therapy school to attend.

“That was one of the big reasons I chose Hardin-Simmons,” she said.

Ball, who earned her bachelor’s degree at Baylor University, is focusing on neuro-developmental pediatrics in physical therapy school and plans a career working with children suffering such disabilities as Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy.

The trip to Peru was a first for Ball, but definitely not a last. Ball learned how to incorporate ministry with her work and to practice what she had learned in the “Beyond Suffering” course, which focused on compassion and a bringing a positive perspective.

“You literally get to be the hands and feel of Jesus,” Ball said.





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