Barbara Haas Vehicle Retrofit Initiative in Alberta
March of Dimes Canada, a charity that provides programs and services to children and adults with disabilities, is providing up to $15,000 to help a Calgary man 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. David D’Amour is the grateful recipient of funding from the Istvan and Barbara Haas Vehicle Retrofit Fund.
David has been a quadriplegic since an accident when he was 18-years-old. Despite this, he has led a very active life, playing wheelchair rugby, volunteering in the community and helping other people with spinal cord injuries learn to adapt. David has limited use of his arms, but years of use has led to constant pain and deterioration of all his upper body muscles and joints. As a result, he needs to transition to a power wheelchair, which won’t fit into his current vehicle. To be fully mobile, David requires a van that can be modified to accommodate the power chair.
In late 2014, David’s sister Danielle started a fundraising campaign towards the purchase of the vehicle. She raised the majority of funds, needing only the modifications financed. March of Dimes’ funding will now allow David to obtain his fully accessible van, so he can get back his independence.
“This (funding) will help me get back out there,” says David. “Ever since my accident, I’ve been extremely active – in fact I now know, overactive. As a result, I’ve had over 25 surgeries, and my shoulders and elbows have been particularly affected. This is the reason I need a motorized wheelchair and this van will allow me to get back to my normal life,” he continues.
David is so grateful to March of Dimes, and particularly, his sister Danielle. “None of this would have been possible without her,” says David. “Danielle is one of my best friends, and I don’t know how to express what she means to me. She has helped give me back my freedom.”
David, along with his sister Danielle, will be formally recognized at March of Dimes Canada’s annual Rock for Dimes fundraiser, taking place on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at Flames Central. Rock for Dimes is a battle of the bands fundraiser, being held for the eighth year in Calgary. More information can be found at www.rockfordimes.ca/calgary.
“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 D’Amours 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.”
Shoppers Home Health Care will be providing 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.