Istvan and Barbara Haas Fund

In 2012, March of Dimes received a significant bequest from a long-time donor who wished to see his gift increase the independence of Canadians living with disabilities. From this, was born the Istvan and Barbara Haas Fund, a memorial tribute to the late parents of Mr. John Haas.

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 directed that funds should be allocated to the acquisition of assistive technology, for people whose needs are both physical and financial. The fund is in memory of his late parents who were Holocaust survivors.


To be eligible contestants must:
  1. Be a permanent Canadian resident
  2. Be a person with a permanent physical impairment caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness.
  3. Demonstrate an impairment that impedes mobility and results in substantial restriction in activities of daily living e.g. personal care and functioning in the community.
  4. Demonstrate financial need. In order to be eligible for funding, the combined gross income of applicant and spouse (where applicable) cannot exceed $75,000. In circumstances where the application is made on behalf of a child, the parents’ / guardians’ combined income is considered. In cases of a single parent / guardian, only the income of the single parent / guardian will be considered.
Pour être admissible à une aide financière, le demandeur doit: 
  1. Être un(e) résident(e) permanent(e) du Canada. ​ 
  2. Avoir un handicap physique permanent de nature congénitale ou découlant d’une lésion corporelle ou d’une maladie. 
  3. Démontrer un handicap qui entrave la mobilité et limite l’exécution des activités quotidiennes.
  4. Démontrer un besoin financier. Pour être admissible à une aide financière, le demandeur et son conjoint (s’il y a lieu) doivent avoir un revenu brut combiné de 75 000 $ ou moins. Si la demande est présentée au nom d’un enfant mineur, le revenu combiné des parents ou tuteurs légaux est pris en compte. Dans le cas des familles monoparentales, seul le revenu du parent célibataire ou du tuteur légal sera pris en compte.

Criteria for giveaway:

The individual or family requires vehicle modifications in order to:
  • Remove or minimize a life safety risk (i.e. provide transportation to receive necessary medical treatment);​
  • Maintain gainful employment or pursue education;
  • Improve access to /participate in the community.​
Vehicle modifications allow people living with disabilities the freedom of mobility, as well as access to and participation in the community 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.

Past Winners

Mark Lomond - Nova Scotia
Mark Lomond
Mark has cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair for mobility. The family’s van had broken down, and Mark's mother Tracy was frequently making the four-hour trip to Halifax for Mark’s medical appointments in a car that could not accommodate his wheelchair. As a result, she had been carrying Mark to his appointments, and her mother needed to accompany her whenever the family left the house together.

“I was so excited and overwhelmed to learn that Mark and I were the recipients ... it’s going to change our lives,” says Tracy Lomond. “Just knowing we can be mobile and safe, go places, and travel back and forth without worrying – I can’t properly explain what a huge difference this will make”.​

Kimberley Lovett - Nova Scotia
Kimberley Lovett
Kimberley is a 40-year-old single mother of three living in Howie Center, Nova Scotia. As the result of a rare spinal cord infection contracted in 2012, when she was eleven weeks pregnant with her third child, Kimberley now needs a wheelchair for all mobility.

“There aren’t the words to properly express my gratitude,” says Kim. “Not having access to transportation has been the biggest obstacle to getting my independence back, being able to work, take my children places, and go to my medical appointments. This funding is going to completely change my life. It’s like a window has been opened for me, and I have hope again. I will never, ever forget this.”

André Bougie - Montreal
Andre Bougie
André lives with spina bifida and uses a manual wheelchair. Declining health and strength have made it harder for him to pursue the sports and recreational pursuits he so loves. He will use the funding towards the purchase of an electric wheelchair to play modified soccer. He is also the new President of Powerchair Soccer Canada, and the funding will help him grow this sport across Canada.

Andre Bougie playing soccer

“We couldn’t be more excited about staging Rock for Dimes again in Montreal,” says Mary Lynne Stewart, National Director of Fund Development and Communications for March of Dimes Canada. “Being able to fund Mr. Bougie and know that he will pay this forward to kids with disabilities across the country makes this event even more special.”​

Hailey Graham - British Columbia
Hailey Graham
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.

“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.”

David D’Amour - Alberta
David DAmour
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. 

“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.”

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