Walk, run, skate, cycle, wheel-chair, roller blade, skateboard – whatever the mode, the important thing is getting out there to support the Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion event, scheduled for June 14.
For the seventh year in a row, residents from the Elmira area will converge on Woolwich Physiotherapy at the plaza on Industrial Drive to mobilize in support of people living with spinal cord injuries.
It’s a unique event that brings together volunteers and recipients from the same community.
“The funds actually come back to the community; a lot of fundraisers you don’t actually see where the money goes – it always goes to a good cause like research, but this is unique because the money comes back and we can see projects that we’ve done around the community,” said Wheels in Motion committee member Laurie Hollinger, noting that an accessible picnic table and a portable ramp are just some of the examples of local projects.
Last year the Elmira branch of the national organization raised $26,500. Organizers are hoping for a similar amount this time around as the monies raised by the local branch go directly into the community, helping local individuals. This year’s target projects include providing some exercise equipment for area resident Doug Weber, who was injured in an on-farm accident; helping with the startup costs of a new sledge hockey program in Woolwich; and buying sledges for two local sledge hockey athletes.
Last year, Wheels in Motion helped cover the costs of installing in Weber’s home an elevator that he uses virtually every day. This year, the organization is looking to purchase a stander for Weber that will help reduce leg stiffness, the cause of spasms.
“I think they’re a great organization. The community sure seems to want to help out in these areas – a big thank you from us,” said Weber, a dairy farmer who lives north of Elmira.
Weber was paralyzed in February 2008 when one of the wheels on the tractor he was operating fell through the barn floor and a bale of hay he was moving hit him in the head. The C6-7 spinal cord injury left him paralyzed from the chest down. With support from family and friends and through his faith, over the past year Weber has been working arduously to regain mobility in his arms and hands.
“I couldn’t even move my arms after my accident, so I couldn’t scratch my face; now I run a manual chair and I wear gloves all the time to wheel.”
The hard work has allowed him to come a long way.
“I still get a lot of support from family and friends, and still feel that people are praying for me. I still feel God’s been good to me, even if I’ve had a loss. I have three kids and they’ve accepted the change very well, I have a good wife,” he said.
Currently, Weber has little if any movement in his hands, and this makes it difficult for him to do his daily tasks. Unable to use his tricep muscles, he finds it difficult transferring from his wheelchair and must rely instead on his shoulder muscles.
Over the course of the next year, Weber will undergo a number of surgeries to “switch some tendons in his hands” and regain some movement in his fingers.
While he waits to get through his multiple operations, Weber will continue to work towards strengthening his muscles and gaining more mobility through therapy.
“I hope to obtain a grasp so that I can hopefully do some of my own care and a big thing maybe is to be able to get into some kind of office work, computer work, hold a pen and be able to hold papers,” he said, noting he has a hard time moving papers around.
Currently, Weber manages his dairy farm and does some bookwork. He uses splints on his hands in order to type.
“I hope to someday have some kind of a job, if I have hand movement that will help me, and the other thing is being able to drive again some day.”
Registration for the Wheels in Motion event begins at 12 p.m. and the event kicks off at 1 p.m.
Several different routes are available, including two-, five- and 10-kilometre courses.
Pledge forms are available at Woolwich Physiotherapy or at Elmira Photo Lab. For more information call 519-669-2578 or visit www.wheelsinmotion.org.