Nfld. & Labrador

Early Christmas gift for Labrador girl with cerebral palsy, thanks to community spirit

Christmas will be a lot easier for Rose and Sophia Coates after receiving the keys to a new Dodge Caravan modified to be wheelchair accessible.

More than $60K, including a $25K provincial grant, was raised for the accessible van

Rose and Sophia inside their new modified Dodge Caravan. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

A Happy Valley-Goose Bay woman's wish for a wheelchair accessible vehicle for her granddaughter has come true, just in time for Christmas. 

"It's just such a good feeling," Rose Coates said. "It's going to make our lives so, so much easier."

Coates began fundraising for the van in October. Her granddaughter Sophia has a form of spastic cerebral palsy, which severely limits the mobility of her legs and arms. 

Rose Coates says having the accessible vehicle will make both their lives much easier. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The six-year-old girl is growing up fast, and getting her in and out of the vehicle has become increasingly difficult for Coates.

"It's just roll on and roll off," she said. "No more putting it in the back of the vehicle, my last trip [with the old vehicle] was coming up here."

Sophia Coates has spastic cerebral palsy, which severely limits movement of her arms and legs. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Coates was handed the keys to her new Dodge Caravan, modified with a ramp and a dropped floor, at the Shriners' clubhouse during its bingo Tuesday night. 

"It's done. We've got her hot wheels, we're going to call them." Coates said.

This was a necessity and this will help Sophia overcome her limitations.- Reg Bowers

Rose had a $25,000 provincial government grant to help buy the van, but those funds would have expired if she couldn't pay for the vehicle by February. 

"We got an early Christmas gift," she said.

Big bucks from many donors

The Happy Valley-Goose Bay Shriner's Club took over the fundraising campaign for Rose, donating $13,000 raised mainly through its weekly bingos. One luncheon at Our Lady Queen of Peace parish raised more than $5,000.

Dozens of other individuals, businesses and community organizations came forward with donations which, together with the provincial money, totalled more than $60,000.

Rose Coates demonstrating the long, difficult process of getting Sophia into their old Chevy Equinox in October. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"People were just coming up and just giving you some money saying, that's for the van," Shriners president Reg Bowers said.

"They know who they are, but sometimes I didn't even know who they were."

Bowers said there was a list of two or three pages worth of donors, which didn't include people who donated through their banks.

The Happy Valley-Goose Bay Shriners' Club ran a fundraising campaign for the van that brought in more than $60,000. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"This was a necessity and this will help Sophia overcome her limitations," he said. 

"It was just unbelievable how everyone can come together," Coates said. "It's just so emotional now, you know, dreams do come true."

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