Vancouver Retrofit Vehicle Initiative Recipients Selected

March of Dimes Canada Selected Two Recipients for the Retrofit Vehicle Initiative

March of Dimes Canada, a charity that provides programs and services to children and adults with disabilities, provided $15,000 to help two Summerland, British Columbia families living with disabilities to retrofit a vehicle to become accessible. 

Vehicle modification allow people living with disabilities the freedom of mobility, access and community participation that so many of us take for granted – but they can be prohibitively expensive, and out of reach for those with limited or fixed incomes. Ernest Panich and Heather McDonald were the grateful recipients. 

Ernest Panich speaks to the roots of March of Dimes Canada, which began as a fundraising organization looking to find a polio vaccine. Ernest lives with post-polio syndrome and needs to use a power wheelchair, making it impossible for him to use public transportation. He can still drive, and the retrofit will allow him to once again access his community, see his family, go to the library, medical appointments, shopping – activities that so many of us take for granted.

12-year-old Heather McDonald lives with cerebral palsy. Her current van is not equipped with a ramp, forcing her parents to manually transfer her in and out of the vehicle, at great physical strain and risk to all of them. As she grows, this will only become more challenging and dangerous to Heather, and her parents. She is a very social girl, who often gets left out of events because of lack of accessible transportation. This grant will change the lives of her entire family.

Heather’s parents, Lorrainne and Jim McDonald, and Ernest, expressed their gratitude to March of Dimes Canada, saying that the vehicle would change their lives. Ernest plans to visit his children more often in Calgary, Alberta, and the McDonalds hope to be able to explore British Columbia, and include Heather in more activities with her friends.

“We are very excited to help Ernest and Heather acquire this retrofit that will make their life a little easier,” says Mary Lynne Stewart, Director of Fund Development and Communications for March of Dimes Canada. “We thank our Retrofit Vehicle Initiative volunteer committee members who were tasked with this very difficult decision for all their help and support.”

Can Am Mobility of Kelowna, British Columbia will be providing the retrofit.

“Can Am Mobility is truly excited and honoured to be a sponsor of March of Dimes Canada's retrofit vehicle initiative in 2014. The retrofit will provide our lucky recipients with an enhanced freedom of living,” says Ed Stang, Certified Mobility Manager for Can Am Mobility.

March of Dimes Canada is a nationally registered charitable organization providing support services to people with disabilities, their families and caregivers across Canada. For more information please visit the website at or call 1-800-263-3463.

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