Photos by Allison Hager-Photographer A. Welsh Photography
Written by Tanya Terry
Sharina Jones, owner of Rehydrate Michigan, was shot by a 7-year-old boy in Waterford, Michigan when she was 5.
“I was with my sister,” explained Jones. “She was babysitting. She was in the back running water for his little sister. I was on the couch, watching the Flintstones, and he came out of his mom’s room holding a gun and said ‘run or I’ll shoot you.’ I started to run toward my sister, and he pulled the trigger. So, my sister came out. I instantly fell to the ground. My parents were teaching me about heaven and hell, and I actually was screaming to my sister that the devil had my legs because they were burning.”
Jones’ sister took her home, and her dad took her to Pontiac General Hospital where Jones had an 18-hour surgery to save her life! Jones also rehabbed at Mott Children’s Hospital.
The mother of the 7-year-old had left a gun loaded in her closet and had said: “If my husband comes home and beats me tonight, I’m going to kill him.’” He never came home that night.
Jones told the Courier this was her sister’s first time going to babysit for the family, and Jones had just graduated from kindergarten the day before. Jones had begged her mother to go with her sister, and she allowed Jones to go.
Since Jones was shot in her back, she was paralyzed and has been in a wheelchair ever since. This made life for Jones different than for other kids.
Therefore, Jones’ whole life focus has been on accessibility and helping people with disability rights. She started a nonprofit called Think Beyond the Chair in 2011. Through it, Jones and her team, with support from Chrysler were able to fundraise and put in an accessible playground at Beech Woods Recreation Center, in Southfield. They also helped put on events, such as an all-accessible carnival.
Jones pointed out when she came home from the hospital, her parents still gave her chores to do. She remembers falling out of her wheelchair and tipping over at first.
“I used to get so upset when I was a kid because I was like ‘it takes me hours to vacuum, and my sister or brother, it would take them five minutes.’ But they wanted to make sure I was independent. I didn’t understand that as a child, but now that I’m an adult and a mom, I understand that.”
Jones went to college, got married and now has an 8-year-old child.
Jones was Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2011, and 1st Runner Up for Ms. Wheelchair America. This helped her branch out and make friends across the country. She and her husband went to the Republic of Panama and took 287 wheelchairs over the course of a year, where there is no Medicare system that helps people who are disabled. Jones told the Courier she wanted to go to other countries and mentioned West Africa.
Jones had a ribbon cutting for her business Rehydrate Michigan in November 2023.
“I started Rehydrate Michigan because my husband would have to take time off work to help me onto the table for my massage therapy service, or if I wanted to get a facial. The tables were too high for me to get up and down on. If I had to use the restroom and it was in the spa, it was inaccessible. They weren’t large enough. I always wanted to try the infrared sauna, but there were steps. I could never just roll in. So, I just wanted a place where everyone could come.”
All the tables at Rehydrate Michigan go up and down. There are medical staff on-site to help with transfers for individuals who use wheelchairs. There is a roll-in shower for the float pod, as well as a shower chair so float pod users don’t have to get their wheelchairs wet. The infrared sauna has a ramp and both glass doors open fully so a wheelchair can roll in easily.
Additionally, there are services to help individuals struggling with substance abuse disorders.
But Jones said Rehydrate Michigan is for everyone.
“Even if you just want to come and have a spa day, we have bridal parties. We have girls’ nights. We do date nights for people. Someone has even rented the whole place, and we set up a date night for him and his wife.”
For details about Think Beyond the Chair, visit thinkbeyondthechair.org.