Patricia with her daughter Naomi

In Patricia’s Honour

An upcoming fundraiser seeks to provide new hope to a deserving resident.

An event to raise $40,000 is currently in the works to buy a brave and heroic woman in Hope a disability van — on Saturday March 21st, during a Pasta Night at the Owl Street Cafe.

Big hearts, minds and wallets are needed to secure the money necessary to give Patricia Cawley a new lease on life. Only 30 seats are left for purchase. This is her story, taken from an interview with fundraiser champion and friend Corinna York.

When I met Patricia she was a shy, quiet, lady in a wheelchair that didn’t say boo. Mind you I didn’t say much either, because when you see someone, a quadriplegic paralyzed from the neck down, you don’t know what to say and it’s just a little bit awkward, but I wanted to be friendly to her.

A couple weeks later I asked Liberty, Patricia’s caregiver, one of them as she has different caretakers throughout the day and night, as to why Patricia was acting so nervous?

It was Patricia’s birthday, so they had this beautiful celebration and all of this food everywhere. A little bible study group did this for her and they had a cake and I noticed that she wasextremely nervous and was wanting to leave, so I thought, that’s strange it’s her birthday.

So I went up to Liberty and I asked her why? It was because it was almost night time and she had to go home in her wheelchair and it’ s very dangerous for her. She could easily tip over on the railroad tracks.

I offered to walk her home no problem.

She had to walk near the river, so I told Liberty to tell Patricia that I would walk with her and to stay and enjoy her birthday party.

When it was time to go home we had to have a car follow us in the back with the headlights on because it’s pitch dark and that’s something I wasn’t anticipating. Her little wheelchair goes about 0.1 miles per hour — it goes so slow that whenever we came to a corner, she had to go down backwards and she almost tipped over and then we had to go to the railroad tracks.

I was almost a nervous wreck by the time I got this lady home. Then I was wondering about bears — there were signs everywhere to watch for the bears and then last week I walked her home and I felt a bit safer because there was still daylight, but then a ferocious dog came running out of the woods, barking at us and growling — I said Patricia you didn’t even jump and she said it’s because I can’t. Now we’re getting to know each other and we have a bit of a sense of humour, so I said okay and I got her home safe and sound.

I went on a holiday and the whole time I was gone, all I could think of was Patricia. I thought forty years in a wheelchair and she and I are only three years apart. And so now I’m thinking, since I was 13, she was a quad just because she was a passenger in this car and got in a horrific accident.

Every Christmas dinner I’ve ever made, every gift I’ve ever purchased and wrapped she was in that wheelchair. While I raised my children from birth, she was in that wheelchair. For 13 years, while I’ve been running this bed and breakfast, she was in that wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down.

So then I came back from my holiday and I asked the obvious question: why doesn’t she have her own disability van, because there isn’t a lot of access here in Hope?

It turns out she can’t afford it. She barely scrapes by and I said wouldn’t you get a million dollars for an accident like that, or a few million at least? She got $50,000 — the lawyer took half and that was it, it was gobbled up, a little bit of medication and the money was gone and I just thought, how can that be? So then I said I have to do something.

I talked to my husband about it and said — we have to do a fundraiser to get her a van and thought well maybe it won’t be new, but at least she’ll have a life.

So, I called up her care workers and I said would you ask Patricia if I can come and speak to her; she allowed me to do that, even though she didn’t know exactly why. I went into her room and I saw that she lives in a tiny space.

And she said.

“You’ll have to forgive me — this is my living room, my bedroom, my kitchen and my dining room.”

And I thought you’re here all winter now? I asked her if she could go out and she said it was too painful and that she didn’t have circulation like you and I would have. The extreme cold or the extreme heat is very hard on her body, so she doesn’t get out much.

The challenge began for Patricia’s fundraiser to buy her a new van. We can buy a van and gift it to her, that’s okay with the disability office, but we can’t give her the money and say here it is — go buy a van. So now I’ve had to do everything with lawyers and the disability office and get everything okay’d which I managed to do.

The Envision Credit Union, bent over backwards to help us, because her name couldn’t even be on the account and yet, they did it and they gave me a bunch of rules I had to follow, like we can’t give charity tax receipts. I had to have two signers, with up to a maximum of one year for raising this money and internet banking was out.

Three weeks ago, I was able to pull it all together.

Way back when I was on the Hope and District Chamber of Commerce, I worked with all of these people, who I started to call and they all responded and rallied around me and said — let’s do this.

Sonia and Graham who own the Owl Street Cafe are opening up their restaurant for this event —it’s very limited; we can only have forty people and we’re having an auction. We need forty items, so I walk in and tell her story to every business that I can find and when I go back the next time they are donating.

This whole thing is a bit overwhelming for Patricia who stated in her own words.

“I don’t really have friends, because when you have my condition people start out wanting to be your friend but then they get bored and they leave you — I can’t go shopping. I can’t go to the movies and I can’t go out for dinner — I have no way to get there.” she said. “People have good intentions of being my friend, they’re kind, but then they get bored and then they kind of forget about me.”

The fundraiser is for $40,000 because that would get her a new van, a year’s worth of insurance and a little bit of gas cards. Because she can’t drive it, it wouldn’t get a lot of wear and tear, it would be her family, her care-workers or a volunteer who would be driving and that would ensure its usage.

Patricia’s condition is hard to take. She’s a prisoner in a chair for life, but does she need to be a prisoner in a room? So now she’s saying ‘maybe I can even get a little home someplace, a little basement suite, or a converted space and call it my own’ because she wants the independence but she needs a helping hand.

Patricia said to me of our combined efforts.

“When this is all said and done – we’re going to the beach to watch a sunset. I want to go to the mall and I want to go to a movie.”

This would open a whole new life for her; she’s still young. She’s 57 for crying out loud. She’s still able to live a full and productive life and deserves to share it with those around her, who are lucky enough to meet her.

For all interested in fundraising for Patricia’s cause and to see her full story please visit http://www.gofundme.com/vanforPatrica