Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut December 03, 2013 - 4:11 pm

Rankin Inlet gala to raise funds for wheelchair-adapted van

Fundraising group ready to hit target at Dec. 7 event

PETER VARGA
Lynn Rudd, far right, with Gabriel Karlik, Miranda Aupilardjuk and Emelda Aupilardjuk of the wheelchair van fund committee in Rankin Inlet. The group expects to finally meet their $50,000 target for the purchase of a wheelchair-adapted van at a gala night fundraiser event, Dec. 7. (PHOTO COURTESY OF LYNN RUDD)
Lynn Rudd, far right, with Gabriel Karlik, Miranda Aupilardjuk and Emelda Aupilardjuk of the wheelchair van fund committee in Rankin Inlet. The group expects to finally meet their $50,000 target for the purchase of a wheelchair-adapted van at a gala night fundraiser event, Dec. 7. (PHOTO COURTESY OF LYNN RUDD)

A long-running effort to raise funds for a wheelchair-adapted van in Rankin Inlet is expected to hit the finish line Dec. 7, when organizers put on their final and biggest event.

Lynn Rudd and six fellow organizers expect to reach their fundraising target that night, with a gala dance, dinner and auction at the Siniktarvik Hotel.

After more than 15 months of bake sales, bingos, penny sales, raffles, a poker night, and other efforts, “this is going to be a huge one,” said Rudd, who leads the effort.

“We started fundraising in the fall last year, and this should be our last event,” Rudd said.

By November, the wheelchair fund committee had raised $38,000 from several fundraisers. Organizers are hoping the gala will bring the fundraising total to $50,000.

This was the ultimate target Rudd set in August 2012 when she decided Rankin Inlet needed a specialized van to help transport wheelchair-bound and other residents with limited mobility.

It all started when Rudd ran into trouble transporting her father after the hamlet lost its one and only wheelchair-adapted van.

“He was in a wheelchair for the last 10 years of his life,” Rudd said.

Her father, who passed away in August, had a particularly hard time getting to the community’s health centre “because he had no strength to go from his wheelchair to his vehicle,” she said.

Her family eventually had to rely on an ambulance for simple visits.

“If we had a proper running vehicle [adapted van] at the time, we wouldn’t have had to take up the use of the ambulance for that,” Rudd said.

She estimates Rankin Inlet has as many as 20 residents who could benefit from a wheelchair-adapted van, including residents who use walkers or crutches.

“They’re homebound, and they can’t get to any events if it’s very cold if there’s too much snow on the ground,” she said. “The majority of the users would be elderly.”

Rudd, who leads a wheelchair fund committee of seven members who support the project, hopes to buy a van that can transport one or two wheelchair passengers around the community of 2,500.

“Rankin Inlet isn’t a big town yet,” she said. “It’s two minutes from everywhere in a vehicle, so one or two wheelchairs in a van will be sufficient I think.”

The committee’s $50,000 target will cover the van’s purchase and shipping into the community.

Once in, the group will have to either find or set up an organization to run the vehicle.

“I’ll be very happy to keep the fundraising efforts going for the running of the vehicle,” she said.

Tickets for wheelchair van fund’s Dec. 7 gala night are $100, which includes a silent auction, dance and dinner, and a chance to win two tickets from Canadian North, to anywhere the Northern airline flies.

Funds are also being raised through the sale of raffle tickets for a 2011 Ford Escape SUV, donated to the committee last year by the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission, and three cash prizes of $1,000 to $3,000, Rudd said.

Up to 150 people are expected to attend the gala this Saturday night.

Contact Lynn Rudd or other committee members in Rankin Inlet for tickets: Gabriel Karlik, Sam Kavik, Emelda Aupilardjuk, Miranda Aupilardjuk, Brenda Aupilardjuk and Emma Okalik.

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