Being in a wheelchair didn’t Donna Biedler from participating in an autumn-time tradition last month in Keremeos. (Submitted)

Being in a wheelchair didn’t Donna Biedler from participating in an autumn-time tradition last month in Keremeos. (Submitted)

Keremeos fruit stand helps make lifelong memories for Oliver woman in wheelchair

A wheelchair-accessible path was installed at The Bears Fruit Stand prior to pumpkin season

A woman in Oliver is forever grateful to the owners of a fruit stand in Keremeos, after she was given the chance for the first time ever to participate in a local Halloween tradition.

Donna Biedler looks forward to her trip to the Bears Fruit Stand in Keremeos every October.

She gets to go on the bus with her roommates from the Southern Okanagan Association for Integrated Community Living, watch the colour-changing leaves on the trees and spend time next to the freshly-carved pumpkins once they arrive in the Similkameen.

But when it’s time for everyone to go inside the fruit stand for a group photo, Biedler is left out.

She’s in a wheelchair due to having cerebral palsy, and can’t fit through the paths to join the rest of her peers.

This year, though, something was different. She arrived at her favourite autumn-themed gathering and realized the paths that go inside the fruit stand were wider than usual.

And after more than five years of travelling with her roommates from Oliver down Highway 3, Beidler was able to finally participate in the group tradition.

“Being in a wheelchair, I was able to enjoy the photos with my staff and roommates instead of sitting on the side,” Biedler said. “It meant so much to me for them to make the paths so big for me, I’m so happy.”

Denise O’Connor, an employee at Biedler’s assisted living building in Oliver, recalls tears coming to her eyes after she watched Biedler participate in the festivities for the first time.

“It just brought her so much joy,” O’Connor said. “We’ve gone every year but to have everyone participate this time around made for one of the most special moments we’ve ever had here.”

Donna Biedler joined by Denise O’ Connor and her peers from the Southern Okanagan Association for Integrated Community Living at the Bears Fruit Stand in Keremeos. (Submitted)

Donna Biedler joined by Denise O’ Connor and her peers from the Southern Okanagan Association for Integrated Community Living at the Bears Fruit Stand in Keremeos. (Submitted)

Gurpreet Bengag, the manager of the fruit stand, confirmed they added a wider path in front of the 991 Keremeos Bypass Road business ahead of this year’s pumpkin season.

“Whether the addition was intentional or not, they’ve put a smile on all our faces,” O’Connor added. “This makes it so that everyone can enjoy it and they deserve so much gratitude for doing this.”

The association for integrated community living sends buses from both Oliver and Osoyoos to the Bears Fruit Stand every year, for the purpose of fulfilling the autumn-time tradition.

Though Biedler cherishes the occasion every year, October 2022 will be a Halloween month she’ll never forget.

“She wasn’t able to fully participate before, but now she can…it was a special trip to Keremeos this year,” O’Connor said.

READ MORE: Penticton man collecting cans in support of building wheelchair-accessible trails


@lgllockhart
logan.lockhart@pentictonwesternnews.com

CommunityKeremeos

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