Wheelchair-ready van a town's gift, Conne River man says

A young man who has trouble getting around because of his disability has been given an early Christmas gift, with the help of his community.

Trevor Stride, with cerebral palsy, says town helped save his family

Trevor Stride, 23, has cerebral palsy, and says his family's lives are much easier now that they have their new van. (Photo courtesy Trevor Stride)

A young man who has trouble getting around because of his disability has been given an early Christmas gift, with the help of his community.

Trevor Stride, 23, of Conne River in Bay d'Espoir, has cerebral palsy and needs the help of a wheelchair to get around.

Stride relied on his family to transfer him from his wheelchair to the family vehicle in order to get around the community, which took a toll on Stride's father, who had to lift his son if he needed to leave their home.

"Well I have a lot of places to go to," Stride told CBC.

In 2011, Stride approached friend and Conne River councillor Noel Joe and asked for help fundraising enough money to buy a wheelchair accessible van.

"I grew up in the community with Trevor and he's been part of the community, and I guess a well-known person in the community. We're almost the same age, so I've known him every since we were young," Joe said.

Trevor Stride said his home community of Conne River helped him and his family tremendously during their efforts to raise money to purchase their new wheelchair-accessible van. (Photo courtesy Trevor Stride)

"[Stride] said 'I know with your help', he said, 'we can get it.'"

For three years, Stride and his supporters worked tirelessly on numerous fundraisers to raise enough money for the van, which cost over $30,000.

"We walked to St. Alban's on the first and then we had fifty-fifty draws … stuff like that," Stride said.

Places to go, people to see

In early December, Stride learned that his hard work had paid off; they had raised $17,424.

That money was used as a down payment on the vehicle, and Stride's family will pay off the rest of the van.

"I was very excited, and if it wasn't for the Chief and council of Conne River, I wouldn't have had it," Stride said.

"It was very difficult, if it wasn't for the van, [my dad] would have his back broke."

Joe said the van gives Stride a new sense of freedom and lessens the strain on the Stride family.

"For Trevor, it means a great deal. He didn't have a van to get mobile, his family had just a typical vehicle," Joe said.

"He thanks me every day. He says 'I owe you my life.' I say, 'No Trevor, you don't owe me your life, you can do this now and you can get out.'"

Stride said he has a lot of places to go and people to see, and now with his new van, he can do just that.

"I'm very, very thankful for my community," Stride said. "And on behalf of me and my family, I'd like to say thank you very much."

"I think it is a pretty good Christmas gift."

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