Scrapping for MS: A Windsor man's passion to find a cure
Doug Meloche spends his weeknights and weekends collecting scrap metal to raise funds
When Windsorite Doug Meloche isn't working, he's collecting scrap metal — to try and find a cure for multiple sclerosis.
Finding a cure has been a passion of his for more than a decade now, having first started when a friend encouraged him to participate in the annual MS Bike tour event. Now, years later, he continues to raise funds by cycling and by collecting scrap metal, selling it to the local scrap yard, and donating every penny to the MS Society.
"15 years ago, it all started with a bike and my passion has actually kept the wheels turning since then," he said.
Since he first started 'scrapping' for MS more than three years ago, he says he's raised well over $100,000 for the cause. In the last year alone, he was able to donate a personal record high of $41,000, mostly from scrap collections, but also partially from funds raised during his most recent bike tour.
Moved by the people he's met along the way
It was the people he met through the MS bike tours that made the mission to find a cure a personal one.
"I sat across from a gentleman that was really, really suffering from MS and he was thanking the participants for raising money and I was about the distance of five feet from this person. And I actually broke down and I had tears coming down my eyes because this guy is thanking me for for raising funds to help people like him," he recalled.
He says he's driven to help everyone fighting the disease, but the matter hit close to home in recent years after a family member was diagnosed.
"Although I wanted to try and slow down a little bit, it just propelled me to a different level that now it's in my family and I'm gonna fight even harder now."
Scrapping every moment he can
In addition to his full time job, he does scrapping three or four hours a night every day, plus at least 20 hours on weekends.
He picks up donations from Windsor, Amherstburg, Essex and LaSalle, with people reaching out to him through word-of-mouth and various calls on Facebook. He says the response has been "truly unbelievable."
"People want to tell you their stories about why MS affects them. As I'm picking stuff up from them, they're telling me that they've had MS in the family and that they would rather give it to myself than anybody else," he said.
In addition to picking up items that range from appliances to bed frames, he prepares the items before taking them to the scrap yard by separating valuable pieces like wires, cords, copper, brass and aluminum that he can get the most money for.
Before taking it to the yard, he stores much of it on a lot where he works, at MWH Petroleum Equipment Inc. in Windsor.
Last year, he said he filled six 80 cubic yard bins that went to the scrap yard. He said he fills them up from top to bottom, while also filling every available compartment like the insides of fridges and washing machines.
'He needs a hand'
Meloche says it's a difficult task, but he doesn't do it alone.
He met Neil Maure more than two years ago when he went to his house to pick up some scrap. When Maure learned that Meloche was doing it all for MS, he was inspired to help him out. Now, he helps Meloche collect scrap on a weekly basis.
"He's such a great guy, and I decided, you know what? He needs a hand. He's only one person," Maure said.
"Anytime I see scrap, I pick it up, I try to prep it up. And if he needs a hand grabbing stuff from somebody's house, I go with him, no problem. I enjoy it, it's fun and knowing that it's going to research for a cure is probably the most rewarding part about it."
Meloche says Maure has since become one of his best friends.
'I'm not a quitter'
Meloche also gets support from his wife who's supportive, even if it means less time at home.
"Granted we don't have a lot of dinners at night together, but she always has food for me when I get home, whether it's 10:30 at night, 11:00 at night," he said.
"And I keep her busy too. She helps me break down things and she's a trooper, she really is."
Scrapping has become such a big part of his life, he's even named his two-year-old dash hound "Scrappy."
A spokesperson for MS Society of Canada said in a statement that Meloche is an "incredible" fundraiser for the organization, and that the funds help the organization connect and empower the MS community in Windsor through the programs they provide.
"Mr. Meloche's support has been a gift of hope and wellness to people living with MS in the Windsor community," the statement said.
As for how much longer Meloche plans on scrapping, he says, "I'm not a quitter."
"I would like to be able to say that when there is a cure for MS, that I had a good part in helping to find this cure," he said.
"I'm going to continue to do this... as long as my health permits and as long as people continue to call me."