A few weeks ago CTV News came along for a spin in my new car. Celine Moreau did an awesome job on the report, managing to get it all wrapped up before I left town for thanksgiving. Note for new drivers: you thought driving was tough before? Try doing it with a film crew. A little nerve-wracking. Joking (mostly); I had a great time.
Several months ago I attempted to board a bus and was informed that London bus drivers would no longer ask nondisabled riders to vacate accessible spots to allow a wheelchair user to board. I was then informed this is what “you people” wanted, to be treated “like everyone else”…which I guess means “badly.” After weeks of discussion I was finally invited to make a presentation at the Accessible Public Transit Advisory Committee (APTSAC) meeting in August, who will make a recommendation to the Commission at the end of August. This is the letter I have submitted to the committee in anticipation of my delegate status.
This past Friday was the 17th annual Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament, an event Rotary runs yearly in my honour to raise money to help find a cure for Muscular Dystrophy. This event is without a doubt the high point of my summer and something I look forward to every year. Once again, we had a packed field of golfers who braved the heat for a good cause, raising over $25,000 to be donated to Jesse’s Journey. I am absolutely humbled and forever thankful for continued support of the Port Elgin community getting behind this tournament in a huge way for nearly 2 decades. For all of those involved in the planning, operating, playing and sponsoring of this tournament, I cannot say thank you enough.
This year also came with some particularly shocking news. As you may or may not know, I have spent the past two years attempting to find a way to drive a vehicle independently. My dream of driving a car took a serious blow in late 2011 when I was informed the only way I could drive was with advanced hand controls and automated ramp system which would cost close to $90,000 — adaptions that are not covered/augmented by any government or non-profit funding available to me. It appeared there was no realistic way to make this dream a reality in the near future.
I was surprised, however, on Friday night by an announcement at the tournament from Duncan Hawthorne (CEO of Bruce Power) that the requisite money had been raised in collaboration with Port Elgin Rotary and I will be receiving a fully adapted van in the next few weeks. That’s right, sports fans, I will be driving by the end of the month! After all these years I will finally be able to drive independently…and three days later I’m still kind of speechless.
I could honestly gush for hours and hours about how thankful I am but honestly words don’t even begin to express how thankful I am. To this point I have lived a charmed life and it is all thanks to the limitless support I have received from my family, friends and surrounding community. Thank you for believing in me, supporting me, and I promise this van will be put to good use.
After a year of pondering and editing, we’re approaching the online release date of Idling: A Transit Story.
Idling: A Transit Story is an online documentary produced by Jeff Preston, chronicling the lack of accessible transportation in London, Ontario and across the province. Follow Jeff on his mission to bring about change the disabled population desperately needs by driving his wheelchair over 650km from his home in London, Ontario to the nation’s capital in Ottawa.
The documentary will be released in parts beginning on September 4th, 2009 with new chapters being released weekly. The full documentary will be available for free download from www.getmobilized.ca once all chapters have been released online.