Our History

Jefferson Tuberculosis Sanatorium Formed (1926)

Lakeshore has a rich history rooted in providing opportunities for individuals with physical disabilities and chronic health conditions that dates all the way back to the early 20th century. Birmingham was among the many cities in the United States affected by tuberculosis during the 1920’s.

In response to the rising number of cases, the Birmingham community saw the need to establish a tuberculosis hospital. Land along Lakeshore Drive was donated and the Jefferson Tuberculosis Sanatorium was formed in 1926.

Transition To Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital Completed (1973)

In 1973 the Sanatorium transitioned to Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital. Rather than hire administrators, the Board of Directors contracted Baptist Healthcare System to manage the hospital for a few years. During that time a UAB Master’s student named Michael Stephens was an intern at the hospital. When he finished his degree in Health Administration, Stephens assumed the role of Administrator for Lakeshore Hospital.

From the beginning of his tenure, Stephens noticed that patients were discharged but would then show up months later with pressure sores and other secondary health conditions. Stephens realized the need for physical activity to improve the lives of Lakeshore patients and came up with a solution. Through his leadership, Lakeshore grew from a 100-bed rehabilitation hospital to a multi-facility system which included services for patients at each stage of rehabilitation and recovery.

Lakeshore Foundation Formed (1984)

The Birmingham Chariots wheelchair basketball team was Birmingham’s first adapted sports team, which was developed out of Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital. There was no gym on campus, so the team practiced at local recreation centers and UAB’s Bell Gymnasium.

Wheelchair basketball proved to be very popular and over the years the programs expanded to other sports. Soon basketball was joined by tennis, swimming, track, aerobics, and numerous youth programs. In 1984 the decision was made to put those community-based sport, fitness and recreation programs under a new entity called Lakeshore Foundation. Jeff Underwood was named the first president and CEO.

Lakeshore Today

Over time these sport, fitness, and recreation programs grew and shifted from being operated by the Lakeshore Hospital and its therapeutic recreation program to being managed by Lakeshore Foundation and open to anyone in the community and state who were living with a physical disability.

Today, Lakeshore has become an internationally renowned organization, serving over 4,000 unique individuals annually through physical activity, sport, recreation, advocacy, policy and research. It serves as an Olympic and Paralympic Training Site, strengthening the ongoing commitment to the development of para sports. The creation of the UAB/Lakeshore Collaborative, an advocacy department and the Lima Foxtrot are further examples of programs designed to achieve Lakeshore’s mission and vision.