Aviva funding doesn’t pan out for projects

Causes: Debra McDonald, North Canoe parents look for alternative ways to raise cash.

Determined: Grant McDonald and Cheryl Hillocks take Debra McDonald for a ride on a specially designed Trail Rider. McDonald is vowing to keep raising money to purchase the unique gear that allows the disabled to access outdoor experiences.

“I am not going to give up at all, no way.”

That was Debra McDonald’s reaction Monday to the news that the project to fund adaptive equipment that allows disabled folks to get out on the trails did not make it into the semifinals of the Aviva Community Foundation’s funding competition.

McDonald, whose mobility has been severely limited by MS, made the application for a TrailRider on behalf of herself and other individuals with disabilities.

Described as a cross between a wheelbarrow and a rickshaw, the TrailRider is a specially designed wilderness access vehicle.

Her body may be confined by MS, but McDonald’s mind is very active, and the heart of this former forester longs to be back in the woods. So, she is now working on a funding proposal to submit to the local Lions Club.

McDonald has also approached the Shuswap Trail Alliance for support, including being the non-profit vehicle through which funding can be provided.

Trail Alliance co-ordinator Phil McIntyre-Paul says reaction was positive when he took the matter before the board last Monday.

“This is exactly the kind of thing we want to support,” he says, noting key issues include finding someone to co-ordinate the project.

McIntyre-Paul says the alliance has acted as the non-profit clearing house for the Larch Hills Nordic Society when they sought funding for equipment.

The TrailRider would work well on all Salmon Arm Greenways trails as well as Blind Bay-White Lake Trail, Eagle River Nature Trail, the Larch HIlls Interpretive Trail, Margaret Falls, Roderick Haig-Brown Park and even the Scotch Creek Lookout Trail, says an enthusiastic McIntyre-Paul.

“I was really excited to see Debra working to make trails accessible, that’s something we wanted to look at more closely,” he says, noting the late Dirk Ky, an outdoors enthusiast, had called attention to the need to adapt trails when ALS severely reduced his mobility. “I see this one as having everything right for community support.”

McDonald’s irrepressible spirit continues to trigger her efforts to get out and about.

The Live it! Love it! Foundation is taking their Whistler adaptive adventure program to Revelstoke and they’ve invited McDonald to attend their inaugural meeting tomorrow night.

“They said they needed someone and I said ‘I’m in.’ I don’t know what I could possibly do, but I volunteered my time.”

And she’s not letting up on her quest for equipment. On Monday, the International Day for People with Disabilities, McDonald was also in the process of following up on a lead for a second-hand TrailRider.

A proposal by the North Canoe Canoe School parent advisory committee to get Aviva funding for a new playground also failed to make it to the semifinals.

A portion of the playground no longer meets CSA standards and a detailed plan created by the PAC and school district pegs the cost of a new wheelchair accessible playground at $47,652. Thanks to grants from the school district, Shuswap Community Foundation, Elks and Royal Purple and Federated Co-op there is $10,300 in the playground pot.

Ingebrigston says community support has been amazing, not just with cash but with other assistance.

The Economic Development Society lets the group know when there are grants they think the PAC should apply for and has helped with the application process.

Vigorous fundraising continues and anyone interested in helping to fund the playground may email Jana at janachad@telus.net.


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