Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 27, 2012 - 5:09 am

Rankin Inlet group raises funds for new wheelchair-adapted van

“If we had a wheelchair van, it’d be so much simpler”

SAMANTHA DAWSON
A group in Rankin Inlet wants to raise money for a new adapted van to help residents who are in wheelchairs get around the community more easily and safely. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
A group in Rankin Inlet wants to raise money for a new adapted van to help residents who are in wheelchairs get around the community more easily and safely. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

People in Rankin Inlet are raising money for a new adapted van that can help transport residents who depend on wheelchairs to get around their growing community.

The van would replace an old one that’s broken down, said Lynn Rudd, who’s spearheading the fundraising drive in the community.

She and a half dozen other residents have started to raise enough money to buy a new van that would be larger inside and equipped with a wheelchair ramp or powered lift.

It’s something that the Kivalliq community of about 2,300 really needs because “we have a growing number of people in the community who are in wheelchairs,” Rudd said. 

The majority of these disabled residents are elders. For the most part, they are housebound and can’t go places “because they have no way of getting there unless someone pushes them.”

The community’s adapted van is off the road, parked in a garage near the town’s wellness centre.

“That’s where it stays,” said Rudd, adding that she can’t remember when that van last made the rounds of the community.

The van is equipped with a lift, but in the winter it freezes up and no longer works.  At one point, there were no drivers and no insurance for the vehicle, she said.

A new van adapted to carry wheelchairs will cost between $42,000 and $52,000. A used model Rudd has been looking at would cost $44,000.

In two weeks, the fundraising group has raised more than $2,000 towards that goal.

Rudd, who owns a property leasing and property management company with her husband, donated $500 from each company to the cause.

The group also plans to hold sales, dances, bingo and a poker night.

Its members also want to hold a silent auction at the Kivalliq trade show in November, if they can receive enough items donated for this purpose.

Rudd became aware of the mobility challenges in Rankin Inlet through her wheelchair-bound father who often had difficulty getting around town.

Sometimes, Rudd had to call an ambulance to help transport her father to the health centre.

“I’ve almost had an accident with him. He almost turned around and had to go back into the health centre,” she said.

And it’s stressful for everyone to rely on an ambulance or a regular truck.

“There’s just no safe way to [get him] from the house to the health centre,” she said. “If we had a wheelchair van, it would be so much simpler.”

Rudd is convinced the fundraising effort under way will be successful.

“I do believe so because there is a lot of support from the community,” she said.

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