It was 13 years ago, that Morgan Protter was born at Squamish Hospital.
However, right from the beginning it was obvious that all was not exactly "normal." Within three months it was clear that, in fact, something was very wrong. At first we thought she was blind. Then, as experts came on board and testing was done we learned she was "globally developmentally delayed," which is medical speak for "no one knows why she will always be like a one-year-old, but she is, so get used to it." Over the years we became serene with this ambiguity, as no deadlines or established outcomes hung over her head. She is, and always will be, totally dependant upon us, and her network of generous caregivers, for everything necessary for life and comfort.
Throughout our journey with Morgan, Mary and I have brought her along as "our baby" who will never grow up. She's gotten big though, about five feet tall and 100 lbs and we dread the day we won't be able to pick her up to give her a hug.
For the last 10 years, Mary has stoically transported her to shopping, her doctor's appointments and school, using our 1999 Plymouth mini van. Morgan was secured using an "Easy On" vest, basically a parachute harness that straps into the car. These last few years have been very difficult as Mary had to lift all 100 lbs of her out of her wheel chair, laterally transfer to the middle of the bench seat, then strap her in. Then she had to wrestle the 120 lb wheelchair into the trunk.
Well something had to give. Freaked out occupational and physiotherapists made it clear that this situation was a time bomb, ticking loudly. It was also pointed out, a little harshly I thought, that neither Mary or I were getting any younger. Adding to all this was the news that Mary's mother wasn't doing very well and had to move into assisted living in Squamish, and then later into a complete care facility. This proved doubly frustrating, as the mini van could only seat five of us, including Morgan, so we had to take two vehicles every time we visited Mary's mother and take her out for dinner or an excursion.
So, we began fundraising to acquire a full-sized van with a wheelchair lift.
We set our sights high, on a Sprinter Van, as everything about it was superior to the Chevy or Ford option.
It took time, there were some missteps, but this spring it all came together. We received funding from the Vancouver Foundation's "Giving In Action" charity; the President's Choice Children's Charity through the Extra Foods Store in Squamish and The Heart Of The Variety Club Charity. Then Mei McCurdy, of the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, facilitated a donation for the van, with the help of Greg McDonnell and the WCSS. Donal Gibson of Boundary Road Sprinter Sales also made a substantial reduction to our final invoice leaving us with an acceptable final bill for the finished, converted Sprinter Van. Craig Tschriter of Shoppers Home Health Care had the lift installed and worked hard with Sprinter Sales to get it to us on time.