Windsor man with muscular atrophy hopes to win new mobility van
A Windsor man with spinal muscular atrophy hopes to win a new van in a National Mobility Awareness Month contest online.
Chris Lemieux, 33, has been using a motorized wheelchair since he was three years old.
"Lucky enough, I got picked to be entered into this," said Lemieux. "People can go online and vote for me, but it's not the top person with the most votes who wins, I only have to get into the top 40."
From the 40 people, a panel selects the winner, he explained. So far, Lemieux has about 750 votes.
The theme of the contest is "local hero" and each person who entered had to write an essay on how they've made a difference.
The voting ends on May 31.
Giving back through wheelchair hockey
In his essay Lemieux wrote about being the commissioner of the Wheelchair Hockey League in Michigan for the past 10 years.
Lemieux does not have the strength to drive the van himself, and relies on others to drive him to league events.
"It's still important because I have to get around. I go to the States a lot, I run a wheelchair hockey league over there for adults and children," he said.
On a voluntary basis Lemieux oversees all league operations, has raised over $100,000 to allow other to play in the league.
"All my life I've required people to help me get through life and succeed, so I only find it positive to give back to other people where I can."
Lemieux also works for the Windsor Express which requires him to be at the WFCU during the winter months.
Lemieux cannot afford new van
Lemieux's parents own a wheelchair accessible van, but it's 13 years old and in rough shape.
"It has hydraulic lift that lifts my chair in and out, and that's getting rusty, and breaking down," said Lemieux. "My parents try to keep it up as best they can...one of these days it's just going to give out."
Both Lemieux's parents suffer from health issues, but still work while also take care of him.
A new van would cost between $50,000 to $60,000 said Lemieux.
"Once they put the ramp in, they have to raise the roof and they have to put down a tie-down system," he said.
Using other modes of transportation, such as accessible taxis or the Windsor Handi-Transit, is not always easy, he said. The wait for a taxi is more than two hours sometimes, said Lemieux.