Byron Raaen, a Shuswap man who is asking the community for help raising funds for a new manual wheelchair. (Contributed)

Byron Raaen, a Shuswap man who is asking the community for help raising funds for a new manual wheelchair. (Contributed)

Fundraiser launched for Shuswap resident who needs new manual wheelchair

Those close to Byron Raaen say he is an inspiration, always helping others

Bryan Raaen, a familiar face in his hometown outside of Enderby and in surrounding communities, is raising funds for a new manual wheelchair to help him get around and continue helping others.

When Raaen was 29 years old, he was in a car accident that left him an incomplete quadriplegic. This means he can move his arms and legs but he has no feeling in them. He has no feeling whatsoever in his body from the chest down.

Now 52 years old, Raaen has never let the accident slow him down.

Raaen has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise what he needs for a new manual wheelchair. Raaen’s wheelchair is now about 10 years old, and he can no longer get any maintenance done on it because the company doesn’t make the model he has anymore, says the GoFundMe caption.

The chair has worn out to the point that the bearings in the wheels are grinding and it hurts Raaen’s arms to turn the wheels, said a source who contacted Black Press.

Raaen doesn’t want an electronic wheelchair, as he writes in his GoFundMe caption that pushing the wheels is the only exercise he gets. He needs a replacement to be able to continue the work he does in his community helping others.

Raaen has been taking schooling to become an addiction support worker. He is currently finishing his practicum specializing in youth at-risk programs in Salmon Arm.

“He’s always trying to help other people,” said the source, a person who Raaen has helped in the past. “He is so amazing, he’s an inspiration, all the things he has gone through and he still has helped me more than he will ever know.”

Although his house burned down years ago — causing him to move around the Shuswap area — and despite sometimes harming himself in his sleep because he can’t feel the pain, Raaen has remained positive in life and is an inspiration to those that know him.

“Any day that you’re feeling sad, call Byron and he’ll talk you through it,” said the source. “He’s a community guy, been that way for 40 years. Everybody knows him.”

The source said that Raaen tried to get provincial government funding for his chair, but was told that he would only get $1000 covered. A new chair costs around $6800, said the source, with taxes on top of that.

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