Heather McDonald’s world just got a lot more mobile.
Living with cerebral palsy, the 12-year-old Summerland girl has often struggled to get to where she is going, even when it came to riding in the family vehicle.
Now, thanks to a generous donation of $20,000 from President’s Choice Children’s Charity, all that is about to change.
The money, which was presented in the form of a cheque to Heather last Saturday by Penticton Real Canadian Superstore manager Anneliese DaSilva, will be used to pay for modifications to the new van her parents, Jim and Lorrainne McDonald, hope to buy soon.
Specifically, the work will involve installation of a specially-designed power lift which will take her and the wheelchair from ground level to the vehicle entrance.
“This is just so unbelievable and so overwhelming and we are so privileged,” said Lorrainne, after the ceremony at Superstore. “This just means the world to us.
“We would never be able to afford this in a million years, never.”
Added Jim: “This is a huge help for us, we’re just a working family and we don’t have that disposable income.”
The joy of seeing the clapping customers and staff, balloons and cake was not lost on Heather as she graciously bowed from her chair with hands raised. She also acknowledged the accolades with an ear-to-ear smile, much to the delight of her older sister Nicole who was in attendance as well.
The money was also an early birthday gift for the Summerland Middle School student who turned 12 Monday.
Her father was particularly happy about the doors it will open for his family.
“Now that Heather’s getting older, it’s really hard on mom and dad and our backs, so it’s going to be so helpful to be able to have her go right into the van,” he said. “It’s going to add a lot of freedom and independence to our family.
“Right now, because it is so difficult we tend to not do stuff but with this, we’re going to be able to zip her right in and head off on an adventure.”
Both parents could not express their appreciation enough to the company and the charity for the assistance.
The store manager was especially happy to see the difference such a gift can make.
“I think the proof is in the pudding here today because we’ve made a family very, very happy,” said DaSilva.
“It’s seeing the looks on the faces of little girls like this or little boys that need help, it really makes you believe in the program.
“It really does give me a good feeling, it melts my heart to see how happy we can make a family that really is deserving.”
The manager credited the customers and colleagues of both Superstore and its sister store, The Wholesale Club, for helping raise the money.
DaSilva added, Loblaws, the parent company, covers the administrative costs of the charity which means 100 percent of the money goes back to the kids.
“So yes, please donate every time there is a program running or even if there isn’t a program, donate. It all goes to a wonderful cause, the children, to help make their lives a little bit easier,” she said.
Information about applying for assistance through the charity can be obtained through Superstore or The Wholesale Club.