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Club Cross brings new business concept to Knoxville

By John Disque

Too often physically handicapped citizens are separated, ostracized and left out of the rest of the world's social activities. If, on the off chance, it's possible to get to an event or a social gathering, it is often impossible to participate or enjoy themselves. The end result is that it's just too difficult and frustrating. The handicapped person is left at home while the rest of the world never thinks twice and goes on with their activities. I'm not sure anyone wants it this way, it's just the way it is… or maybe I should say "the way it was."

club cross
Thomas McNeilly (left) and Shawn Bean (right); owners of Club Cross.

The fully handicapped-equipped and accessible "Club Cross" has now gone from the planning stages to the "action stages." This new business concept for Knoxville is not just for the handicapped. Everyone is warmly welcomed as the ultimate dream is to bring both worlds together for a functioning, enjoyable solution.

The concept for Club Cross is the brainchild of Thomas E. McNeilly and Shawn Bean, both of Knoxville and both thirty years old.

McNeilly is Vice President of Gold Creek LLC, a pharmaceutical company which sells TP Gold (www.tpgold.com). He knows better than anyone what it's like to attempt to function in the handicapped world. At birth McNeilly was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and has spent his life in a wheelchair. While admitting how difficult it is, he is proud to say that it has never stopped him. "I just want to make things a little less difficult for people like me. I also want to show people who aren't physically handicapped that we have dreams too. We can do everything they can. We just need access and the right equipment."

As McNeilly speaks, there is a world full of hope, determination, and pride. He's right about everything he says. The proof can be seen throughout his life from his current employment at Gold Creek to his incredible accomplishments and notoriety in the Handicapped Little League Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bean is husband to Elizabeth Bean and the new proud father of one year old Joshua. Bean is a very successful promoter for the Great Southern Gun and Knife Show, one of the top shows in the U.S. If what he's done with his own business is any indication of what he'll do with Club Cross, then I'd say Knoxville is about to be handed a long-awaited gift.

McNeilly and Bean have been friends for years. Their dreams eventually began to merge, creating the very best of both worlds. The more they thought and talked about it, the more it evolved turned into a reality.

Bean's dream was to create a Christian-based social club; a gathering place for people who wanted to meet each other, hang out, share ideas and have some fun. McNeilly's dream was to create a 100% handicapped-accessible club for the same reasons: Club Cross -- built and designed for everyone; Christian and non-Christian, handicapped and not, young and old, black and white, rich and poor. The idea was to bring everyone together and let everyone have full access to everything.

Sitting down with McNeilly and Bean was the easiest interview I've ever done. The information continued to spill out of them in a mixture of excitement and pride. For the most part I just sat there smiling and listening. The more I listened, the more convinced I became. Their idea was brilliant.

The first thing a person will notice about Club Cross is wider doorways, lower light switches, low counters for the snack bar and specially equipped bathrooms. The club will include a gymnasium where handicapped as well as non-handicapped people can play basketball, volleyball, and racquetball. The club will also have a game room with people in wheelchairs playing pool, darts and Ping Pong. A dance floor with dance lessons will be available, along with a stage for karaoke. TVs will be set up throughout the facility to air all sporting events.

Tournaments will be held for many of the activities at Club Cross.

The goal of Club Cross is to create a safe environment to foster relationships between the physically handicapped and everyday people," said McNeilly.

Also offered at Club Cross will be classes on various ways and strategies for the handicapped person to cope and function. These classes will also focus on the newly handicapped individual who might not be as equipped or not fully adjusted to their lifestyle changes. Injured soldiers returning from active duty will find Club Cross helpful as they go through physical rehabilitation and experience the necessary adjustments of being unable to function as they did before they left for active duty.

A physically handicapped person is often confined to their home with no transportation or hope of getting around town. Club Cross will have their own buses which will transport people to and from their homes. The bus fee will be very modest Discount rates and bus passes will be available for frequent passengers.

The goal is to have the Club Cross doors open by the Fall of 2011. These business owners are currently looking for sponsors and the best location to put the club. The Cedar Bluff area is at the top of their list.

Club Cross: "For the non handicapped person to meet the world of beautiful faces, minds, competition, ideas, dreams and friendships and for the handicapped person to no longer be denied the same opportunity."

Club Cross can be contacted by email at Theclubcross@gmail.com or by phone at 865-386-4020.

Published November 21, 2010

 


     
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