Dealership gives $30K van to Yukoner who needs wheelchair-accessible vehicle

'It seemed like a good cause,' says Travor Willier of Whitehorse's Metro Chrysler dealership.

'It seemed like a good cause,' said Travor Willier of Whitehorse's Metro Chrysler dealership

Wayne Thomas with his family and the 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan donated to them by Whitehorse's Metro Chrysler dealership. General sales manager Travor Willier is at right. The van will be made wheelchair-accessible for Thomas. (Metro Chrysler of Whitehorse/Facebook)

When Travor Willier heard about Wayne Thomas's plight, he was inspired to help.

"Something drove me to it," said Willier, general sales manager at the Whitehorse Metro Chrysler dealership.

Thomas was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. His family relies on their wheelchair-accessible van to get him around, but the 2002 vehicle is on its last legs.

"We figured we'd give him a van," Willier said. "It seemed like a good cause."

It's not just any old van, either — it's a white, 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan, which typically sells for about $30,000.

"'We kind of took a look to see what is out there and what would work for him, and that was one of the ones. So we kind of went that way."

Last winter, an online fundraising campaign was launched for Thomas's family to replace their van. It's raised nearly $6,000. That effort got a boost recently when Takhini-Kopper King MLA Kate White used her 40th birthday party to also raise funds. 

Wayne Thomas and MLA Kate White. White used her 40th birthday party to raise money for Thomas's new van. (Submitted by Kate White)

In all, about $25,000 raised in the community will go toward converting the new vehicle to make it wheelchair accessible. 

"It should be back and ready for Wayne in a few weeks!" Thomas's mother, Lorrie Thomas, said on Facebook.

Willier said he's happy the dealership was able to help.

"We're big supporters of local businesses, and figured local people are what made us. And we just figured, we'd give back to somebody who's definitely in need," he said.

"Just trying to be part of a community."

With files from Philippe Morin


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