FTL News


FTL’s 2017 Post-Golf Tournament Update

Our annual golf tournament was a huge success this year—raising over $90,000 for Freedom to Live!

Several of our recipients, including Adam Hancock, Juan Elisarraras, and Paul Jacobson, were there to meet and greet with our golfers, along with San Diego Padres mascot Swinging Friar, Montezuma from San Diego State, and Gulliver from the San Diego Gulls. But they weren’t a bit out-of-place amongst all of our costumed supporters and golfers! When’s the last time you’ve seen golfers all decked out for Halloween spread across an entire golf course? It certainly was a sight to see!

Channel 10 News (KUSI) was also there to interview Sian Welch & husband Greg Welch about the annual tournament:

We all had an awesome day and are so grateful for all the support from our Golfers, Hole Sponsors, Supporters, Volunteers, and FTL Recipients. We couldn’t have done any of it without you and we just wanted to say


If you want to see some great pictures from the tournament check out the gallery below:


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Join Us for Our Annual “Spooktacular” Golf Tournament!

Attention all you golfers out there–come out and have a “spooktacular” time at Freedom to Live’s Annual Golf Tournament Fundraiser!

We are raising money to help people living with spinal cord injuries to achieve independence, and your participation makes that possible.

– Your registration/donation gives you a chance to play 18 holes at the beautiful Fairbanks Ranch Country Club
– Every golfer will receive an Oakley-sponsored swag-bag valued at $450
– Enjoy delicious street tacos and have a drink at the bloody mary & margarita bar before you play
– Pariticpate in our “Meet the Experts” golf clinic
– Take part in our silent & live auctions featuring sports memorabilia and unique opportunities
– Plus plenty of food, drinks, & fun surprises at every hole!

Stick around after the game for a cocktail party with live music and meet some of the recipients whose lives have been changed because of your generous support and donations.

Golfers are invited to dress up in their best “Golf Attire” Halloween costumes!

We have great participation packages available, but hurry because space is filling up fast.

Visit our registration page to sign up today.

See you there!


FTL Receives Grant From the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation

Freedom to Live is a young non-profit that is requesting funds to support (16) individuals with high level SCI by moving them from hospitals and nursing homes to independent living situations. The proposal includes the cost of moving the residents, providing rent subsidies for underfunded residents and in-home support services. The organization’s founder previously owned a company for (28) years that cared for individuals with ventilator-dependent quadriplegia in community settings. The reviewers felt that the program had a strong base of community funding and that Neilsen support would further strengthen non-institutional living for more quadriplegics. This is a model that the Foundation should watch closely for its potential to be replicated in other parts of the country.

FTL Success Story – Clinton, A Mom’s Perspective…

When it was time for my son Clinton to be discharged again from another hospital stay, he ran into the same problem that I learned, through our families’ journey, so many other disabled people had before…no place for a young, physically disabled person with a good mind to live. He was too young for any decent assisted living facility and no place to call home.  Still needing more care than his estranged wife could or would provide, he found himself, once again, in the same situation.  I know that each time he was ready to be discharged he began feeling insecure and hopeless.  He and I discussed several times, the opportunity to fill the need, for housing the young physically disabled, with good mental capabilities.  We had no idea that someone had recognized that need several years ago. 

Mary Williams, and her daughter Sian Welch and the Freedom to Live Foundation…were the answer to our prayers!  Clinton was introduced to Mary and Sian through Care Meridian.  After years of working with young people like Clinton, Mary recognized the “black hole” that was left in these young folks lives after leaving the hospital or sub-acute facility with a catastrophic, life altering injury.  She saw them leave with no help, no guidance, no words of true wisdom on how to get back to living normally again!  It is like taking someone to the edge of a diving board that never learned to swim. 

Maybe they will make it and maybe they won’t.  What a gamble and possible waste, of good, productive young lives…Freedom to Live Foundation not only provides them with a safe place to call home, but also offers all the life skills necessary to be successful as they attempt to re-enter society as a viable and useful citizen. If they need medical attention, they will get it.  If they need guidance on where to get help, they will get that too.   Clinton has great potential to lead a normal happy life.  But without help and someone who believes in him, without the fellowship of people who have experienced the same problems but have made it, his road back would be much more difficult…maybe he would make it and maybe he wouldn’t.  The next steps into a successful life are up to Clint now…all he has to do is ask…help is now available…he is a part of Freedom to Live Foundation…part of a wonderful family who offers love, acceptance and hope!


FTL Announces Exciting Partnership with Coin Up

Very Exciting News for our Supporters Freedom To Live Foundation is proud to announce that we have partnered with COIN UP to raise more money & awareness for Freedom To Live…now you can download the COIN UP app, choose Freedom to Live and your virtual spare change will be automatically donated to us. Click here to check it out!! http://apple.co/2cDiGmR

How It Works?

Join Coin Up to make donating to FTL easier than ever! It’s a simple as:

Download the Coin Up app from the Apple Store, choose Freedom To Live, and register your credit or debit card. Every time you use your credit or debit card to make a purchase, whether it be filling up their car with gas or buying a meal at a restaurant; each transaction is rounded up to the nearest dollar and is directly transferred to Freedom to Live at the end of the month. Set a monthly cap and receive a tax donation receipt because you are in control! http://apple.co/2cDiGmR

We will have a Coin Up booth at registration. Our Coin Up representative can help you download the app and explain how just $10-15/month from your spare change can make all the difference in the world!!!

FTL Success Story – Adam Hancock

My name is Adam Hancock. Although we don’t know each other, I’m going to ask a favor of you. Are you ready? Close your eyes…With your eyes closed, use your imagination. Imagine that you can’t move your legs. You try. You try as hard as you can, but there is no response. Try as you may, they simply don’t obey. Next, imagine that you can’t move your arms either. Same thing, you can feel them, you can see them, but when you try to move them there is no response, not even a twitch.

Okay, you can open your eyes. What you’ve just imagined is just a small taste of the paralysis that follows a high-level spinal cord injury. I say a small taste for a couple reasons. One, you just conceived of it for a few seconds. Two, lacking the ability to move is just the tip of the iceberg. How do you eat? How do you drink? How do you scratch your nose? Not to mention dressing, bathing, doing laundry, driving, shopping for groceries, going to the bank, making money to go to the bank with. And that’s not even things like holding hands, kissing, caressing, hugging, dancing, playing your favorite sport, riding a bike or a motorcycle, going on a walk or a hike, climbing a tree.

I think you get the point. Well, add to the things above breathing. Because the paralysis from a high level spinal cord injury includes your diaphragm, so you need a machine to help you do that. I’m not asking you to imagine these things to make you feel bad or to make you feel sorry for me. I’m asking you to imagine these things because in order to understand the value, the magnitude, even just a little bit, of what it is like to regain some of the things in life that you need and that you love, you must first imagine what it is like to be without them.

At first, like all spinal cord injured (SCI) people I’ve met, I was overwhelmed with my newfound condition. I was so overwhelmed, I questioned whether life was worth living in such a state. That question is a personal struggle and question that only the individual in such a situation can resolve. No one can answer that question for you. I will tell you, that for me, I grappled with it, I examined it, inspected everything I could about, I reflected, I did serious soul searching, I tore it apart and with bare, brutal honesty with myself, put it back together again. After some time and constant thought, I reached the conclusion that there were too many people I liked and loved to say goodbye. There are too many things about life that, deep down in my core, I love too much to give up. So, I decided to stay. To create a life. To LIVE.

With that decision came all the challenges, all the questions and unknowns and mostly an introduction to the limits my own ideas and mindset placed before me. It has been said, “If you think you will win or you think will lose – If you think you can or you think you can’t… you are right.” So, the challenges were many and progress was slow. But each new endeavor was built on hard-won accomplishments of the past. I eventually came to the place where moving out of a facility and managing my own physical care (with the help of others, of course) was the next obvious logical step. The catch-22 swirled in front of me – financially, you need X-amount to move toward self-support, but currently the living environment (rules, restrictions, nursing resources to help, cost of rent, etc.) block you from taking those next steps that will teach you what you need to know and allow you to earn the self-support you desire.

Freedom To Live provided me the opportunity to bridge the gap between institutional living and independent living. I moved to FTL’s San Jose Freedom house January 20th 2013. While living at the Freedom house I learned the skill-set to genuinely manage my care. I learned to order my own medical supplies, to work with a home-health nursing agency and Medi-Cal, Medicare and In-Home-Supportive-Services to organize my staffing (scheduling my nurses so I could remain safe, healthy and productive). I learned how, with the help of my care-givers, to get my laundry done, go grocery shopping, attend classes for business – to pursue a life and not just use all my time to try and cope with my body and just stay “alive”. By sharing resources and accepting rent subsidy, I began to create

more and more personal freedom through new skills and abilities and take living life to the next level. FTL gave me that. The training for my business has allowed me to envision actual realistic self-support in the not too distant future rather than it being just a pipe-dream that maybe somehow, some way, someday I might figure out how to pay my own way.

I moved to an apartment, with my fiancée, near enough to my business to be productive in July 2014. This is only possible with the rent subsidy from FTL. This will allow me to eventually generate the income from my business necessary to no-longer need the subsidy. Freedom To Live has provided me with the things necessary to envision a future, to be productive toward that future, to create my life, to live rather than just cope hand-to mouth.

I am eternally grateful. For me, these things are priceless beyond words. I hope my words above give you a glimpse, a small glimmer of the invaluable work Freedom To Live has done and continues to do for me and others like me.

With Gratitude,

Adam Hancock, Freedom To Live recipient.

Success Stories – Lives Positively Changed

Dillon Connolley

26 years – C-4 complete quadriplegic – Olympic Swimmer

Dillon was an Olympic level swimmer at USC and was pursing a new career as a computer engineer when he dove into a wave and hit a sand bank. At the time of the accident Dillon’s parents lived in Florida so Dillon went to Shepard’s Hospital in Georgia for his acute rehab program; however, after discharge, Dillon wanted to move back home to Orange County so a good friend readied an apartment for he and his parents to live.

Like so many families who are faced with with a catastrophic injury with no support or education following hospitalization, Dillon and his parents fell into desperation and hopelessness. Dillon’s parents were forced to quit their jobs to care for Dillon 24/7. Even though Julia, Dillon’s mom was in contact with FTL prior to moving home, Julia reconnected with FTL in February. Since then Dillon and his parents have worked closely with FTL to qualify for adequate home care. Today Dillon has 24 hours 7 days per week care provided though Medical services and Dillon’s parents are now able to resume their lives while providing a supportive and loving foundation for their son.

Bryan Verschelden

31 years – C-4 complete quadriplegic – Computer Analysis

Bryan broke his neck after slipping on tile in his garage last July 2014. Bryan’s mother was researching and considering all options for her son when the insurance case manger referred her to FTL. She flew to LA, met with executive director Sian Welch and knew right away that FTL was the perfect place for Bryan to live after leaving the rehab program. FTL traveled up north to meet Bryan, coordinate his discharge, answer many questions and explain the things Bryan would have to look forward to in his new life. October 20, 2014 Bryan moved to the San Jose Freedom home to begin his independence training program.

Tamara Mena

26 years – Paraplegic, Motivational Speaker

At the age of 19 Tamara was involved in a horrific car accident, killing her boyfriend and leaving her as a paraplegic. Tamara wrote to Sian, FTL executive Director…”So speaking with you about your organization gave me hope, and to me, that is priceless! I look forward to speaking more with you about your organization and the possibility of receiving help and support so I can make the move to LA, a long-time dream to pursue my career as a wheelchair model and motivational speaker.”

Tamara graduated university with highest honors and was voted “most inspiring Latina in 2014” by the American Latino Awards and is the first wheelchair person to model at the New York Fashion Week in 2015. Tamara’s story of determination and success has reached millions of people and now Tamara is finally planning her move to LA to pursue her very promising career with FTL’s support and coordination.

George Gobbi

48 years – C-4 incomplete quadriplegic – Security Guard

George spent over 150 days in a skilled nursing facility after his accident and at discharge he was headed for a life living in a nursing home. After a nurse at the facility referred George to FTL he began realizing his opportunity to come to a Freedom Home to learn how he can live independently outside of a facility. George completed his 3-month independence training program on June 15th and has just moved out with 2 other FTL graduates to a beautiful three bedroom home. George’s best friend wrote, ” I want you to know that I am amazed and grateful for where George is in his progress, this program has changed George’s outlook of life so much, Thank you!”

Geoff Johnson

46 years – paraplegic

FTL was referred to Geoff over 2 years ago following an accident that left him a paraplegic. At the time, Geoff had a law suit pending and at the advice of his attorneys he choose to move to an assisted living home. He now has his settlement but no longer can afford, nor wants, to live in an assisted living home. Geoff is moving to the San Jose Freedom Home this Monday, July 6th to begin his 6-month journey to gain the skills in order to live at home successfully. We will update you on his progress.


31 years – quadriplegic

FTL received a call from a friend of Nathan’s 5 days ago. The friend met Nathan at church so he was calling because he heard about FTL and thought we could help this young man. Not surprisingly, FTL learned that the living conditions Nathan was forced to live under were terrible and his care needs were not being met. Nathan is desperate to change his situation so FTL is the process of learning more about him and how we can help him. The criteria FTL uses to qualify a person for the program is 1) the need to for housing and training, 2) the ability to be become independent, and the biggest and most important criteria… 3) the DESIRE to be successful in life.