March of Dimes Canada Selects Recipient for the Istvan and Barbara Haas Vehicle Retrofit Initiative in British Columbia


March of Dimes Canada, a charity that provides programs and services to children and adults with disabilities, is providing $15,000 to help a Nanaimo woman living with a disability to retrofit a vehicle to become accessible. 

Vehicle modifications allow people living with disabilities the freedom of mobility, access and community participation that so many of us take for granted – but modifications can be prohibitively expensive, and out of reach for those with limited or fixed incomes. Hailey Graham is the grateful recipient of funding from the Istvan and Barbara Haas Vehicle Retrofit Fund.

Hailey is a 26-year-old Nanaimo resident living with spastic quadriplegia from cerebral palsy. Haylie is non-verbal and requires full-time support. She is a very active young woman, participating in power wheelchair soccer and attending a number of community events through a local social club. However, her existing van is old and unreliable, frequently breaking down. Hailey’s mother Michelle is afraid of letting her travel too far, fearing that the van will stop working, and her daughter will end up stranded.

The family started a fundraising campaign towards the purchase of a new vehicle. The contribution from March of Dimes’ funding will help the family acquire the modifications once the van has been purchased, so Hailey can once again participate in the sports and activities she loves.

“This is such a huge boost to our overall fundraising goal,” says Michelle Graham. “We’re just floored by this generosity and knowing that we will soon have a reliable vehicle for Hailey is amazing. I constantly worry about her safety in our current van, and Hailey will be able to continue her activities, which so improves her quality of life,” she continues.

The family will be formally recognized at March of Dimes Canada’s annual Rock for Dimes fundraiser, taking place on Thursday, February 26, 2015 at RedRoom Ultrabar. Rock for Dimes is a battle of the bands fundraiser, being held for the ninth year in Vancouver. More information can be found at www.rockfordimes.ca/vancouver.

“We always say that the retrofit helps not only the recipient, but the whole family,” says Mary Lynne Stewart, National Director of Fund Development and Communications for March of Dimes Canada. “This was truly a family effort for the Grahams and we feel lucky to have been a part of it. As well, we thank our Istvan and Barbara Haas Vehicle Retrofit Initiative volunteer committee members who were tasked with this very difficult decision for all their help and support.”

Sidewinder Conversions and Mobility will be contributing to the retrofit.

Through a series of competitions across Canada, the Istvan and Barbara Haas fund will grant between $10,000 - $15,000 to successful candidates, depending on region and need, towards recreational devices or vehicle retrofits. Funding comes from the estate of the late John Haas, who designated that funds be allocated to the acquisition of assistive devices, or vehicle retrofits for people whose needs are both physical and financial, and that the fund would be in memory of his late parents who were Holocaust survivors.
Whenever possible, the candidate(s) will be recognized at a Rock for Dimes fundraiser in his/her province.​

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