Woman donates money in mother’s memory for new Barnwell County aquatic center

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BARNWELL COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — For the first time in more than 30 years, Barnwell County will soon have a new public aquatic center.

“It gave her the accomplishment of doing something. It gave her a reason to get out the house,” Rhonda McElveen told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk about her mother’s time at the Y in Barnwell.

Rhonda McElveen’s mother Glendora first found the Y after she was diagnosed with cancer and moved from Sumter, South Carolina to Barnwell County. “She made me cry cause she didn’t want to come back here,” McElveen said.

Doctors said that if she survived, she wouldn’t even live 18 months. It was a bike that helped jump-start her recovery — even after two surgeries. 

“She would ride it 30 minutes a day and then walk two laps and then go to the country club and eat ice cream,”

McElveen was one of a few donors who made this groundbreaking of a new aquatic center possible.  It will be the first center of its kind in the area in more than 30 years.

“We’ve envisioned a pool here in Barnwell since the day we opened and that dream is becoming a reality now,” Katie McCauley Chief Operating Officer for the Family Y of Greater Augusta.

The new indoor and outdoor aquatic center will include a large competitive lap and recreation pool, kiddie pool, and large deck  — including an area for events and gatherings. There are already plans in place for the new area.

“We want to have swim teams in 2022, I hope,” Barnwell County Councilman Jerry Creech said. ” We hope to get a physical therapy team going here for old people like myself, that we can. We have health problems then we come here and get them worked out instead of having to go to Aiken or Augusta,” he added.

The new pool will be named in McElveen’s mother’s honor. “I thought it would be a nice tribute to her honor and her memory to rename the pool to be named after her,” McElveen said. “So that’s why I gave her money,” she added.

“If anybody in Augusta needs a place to swim, come on, we’re waiting on you,” Creech said.

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