College class comes to student's aid again

A millwright class at College of the North Atlantic in Corner Brook is stepping up again for a student who uses a wheelchair.

Will help fundraise to replace wheelchair-user's accessible van

Michael Johnson wheels his way to the College of the North Atlantic in Corner Brook. (CBC )

Some Corner Brook college students are coming to the aid of a familiar friend again.

The millright class at College of the North Atlantic winterized Michael Johnson's wheelchair so he could clear his own driveway.

Then they built him a special bobsled so he could compete in a race.

Now, they're helping raise money to replace his accessible van that just died.

Johnson says without it, getting up the long hill to his house is a real chore.

Johnson, an engineering student at the college, has been wheeling himself through the snow covered, hilly streets of Corner Brook since he lost his ride.

He says the transmission and electrical system must be replaced, but he figured there wouldn't be much point in doing that.

"You can fix it, but it's not worth fixing because of the high mileage," said Johnson. "There's almost 250,000 kilometres on it."

Millwright class steps up

Millwright student Evan Rumbolt said his class feels it's time to help out Johnson again.

"Throughout the year we were raising money by recycling and selling scrap metal and we were going to use it to put it towards our trip to St. John's at the end of the year," said Rumbolt.

"But Michael needs it more than we do, so we are just going to give it to him."

Johnson and the millwright class have developed a close relationship. 

The group has helped out Johnson before, rigging up a snowblower so he could use it from his wheelchair, and modifying a bobsled for Johnson so he could take part in the Corner Brook winter carnival in February.

In return, Johnson test drives their inventions to help hone their skills. 

Instructor puts out call

Jerry Smith, the instructor for the millwright class, and Johnson's neighbour, said the class donation is the start of the group's latest project for Johnson - which this time is more about fundraising than fabricating. 

"Ask the people of Corner Brook, and more especially the tradespersons of Newfoundland and Labrador to donate to Mike enough money so that we can buy him a vehicle," said Smith.

Johnson and the class estimate a replacement vehicle, modified for Johnson's use, will cost about $40,000.