How one wheelchair makes an impact - a March of Dimes story

Jun. 04, 2018

It started with a simple request – to be able to move. That’s it. While the freedom to walk and get around is a basic ability that many of us take for granted, March of Dimes Canada’s Assistive Devices program works to provide people the necessary devices to make life ‘movable’ again.

John* is one of many individuals that has benefited from the work of March of Dimes Canada. A prideful man with a motorized scooter for mobility, he developed cellulitis. As the cellulitis worsened, John found it challenging to transfer on and off the scooter. The extreme pain increased his risk of falls and injury just doing the simplest of tasks like bathing, grooming and meal preparation, let alone community outings.

At this point, John was told he needed to have a leg amputation to combat the cellulitis. While the cellulitis was no longer an issue, John suddenly faced a new challenge – how to move again. It was then, in 2017, a general granting request came to LCF to help provide him with a wheelchair. While John still had the motorized scooter, his leg amputation limited his strength and balance, making the scooter a challenge to use. A manual wheelchair was prescribed by his Occupational Therapist, in hopes of making mobility easier. 

The manual wheelchair was going to cost $2,742, an unaffordable price for John, who was unable to work. March of Dimes Canada advocated for him, sharing his story and trying to leverage funding received from United Way to cover the cost of the manual wheelchair ($2,500 remained).  Unfortunately, John wasn’t able to receive funding from government sources or other organizations.

That’s when LCF was able to step in. Having had donors support March of Dimes Canada in the past, it was a no-brainer to provide funding for his wheelchair. At $2,500, it was a simple gesture of support from the community that resulted in a lifestyle filled with independence and freedom.

I’m so very grateful for this manual wheelchair.  For the first time in a very long time, things felt easy for me. For a while everything was just so difficult: getting up for meals, getting outside, even just going to the bathroom.  Then getting denied by other organizations for the funding of my wheelchair.  Everything was just so difficult and seemed kind of hopeless. Now everything is just easier. Thank you so very much!”

A man sits in his wheelchair with his service dog, with two females standing beside him. All three people are smiling

Before the wheelchair, John found himself bed-ridden frequently, removing his prosthetic multiple times a day for healing and pain management. But now, with a manual wheelchair, John can go about his life – with or without his prosthetic.  John can move again.

Assistive devices like John’s wheelchair contribute toward overall health, safety, community participation and better access to social supports. This type of involvement can drastically improve the quality of a person's life by boosting their self-esteem, their capacity for independence, improving their mental health and empowering them to make the most out of life.

“March of Dimes Canada is so grateful for the partnership of the London Community Foundation.  It has made such a difference in the lives of many of our local consumers, for example, John who was finally able to safely access his home and community for the first time in a very long time.  We would not have been able to assist John without the grant that was received from the London Community Foundation.  On behalf of March of Dimes Canada and all of the people with disabilities that you have helped us assist, we thank you!”

*Name changed to respect individual's wish to remain anonymous 

 All images belong to March of Dimes and are taken from their social media pages.