ST. BONIFACE — The 18th Tabs for Wheelchairs Assembly was held at Holy Cross School gym June 23. Students, staff, contributing schools and supporters gathered for the presentation. A wall of drink tabs made of 50 pound bags was built in the Holy Cross gym. This represented the collection of tabs from various schools and organizations. Approximately 90 schools save tabs for the project.
Gwen Buccini, a retired librarian from Holy Cross School, started the project 18 years ago. Buccini said, “It is our 18th anniversary and two years from now it will be our 20th. We would love to make that 20th year special, and present two wheelchairs in honour of the milestone.” Buccini, along with helpers from the school and other volunteers, have faithfully throughout the year gathered the donated tabs and assembled them in 50-pound bags.
“The success of any event or program is due to all the people who are part of it and who continuously go above and beyond in their generosity of time and dedication,” stated Buccini. She expressed her thanks to St. Boniface Bag for providing free bags; Reimer Express Lines who transport the tabs free of charge and Western Scrap Metals who give them the going rate or better for the pounds of tabs that are delivered. Cash donations are also accepted, with an income tax receipt issued for donations over $20.
Buccini also thanked Mike Hughes of HT Mobility who makes sure that each recipient gets the specialized chair that best fits their needs. “With the assistance of the Rehab Centre for Children the right chair is chosen and ordered by Mike,” indicated Buccini.
Buccini remarked that although more tabs have come in this year than any other in the history of the Tabs program, it will still not be enough to reach the goal of purchasing two wheelchairs in 2018. She challenged those in attendance to spread the word and encourage more people, schools, companies and organizations to save tabs. She also mentioned that cans, old hubcaps, rims, car batteries — anything made of copper, brass, steel or aluminum — could also be turned into scrap metal, designating the monies to the Tabs for Wheelchairs Program.
Jessica Rempel was the 17th recipient of the Tabs for Wheelchair program. Jessica was born with spina bifida and has nerve damage to her lower spine. She has been in a wheelchair all her life. The chair she received will help her become more independent and one day live on her own.
“The wheelchair has the capability of being elevated in order for her to work in the kitchen and other areas and give her greater mobility,” said Buccini. Jessica was clearly excited as her chair was brought forward, knowing it will change her life.
The 2017 recipient will be a grade 10 student at St. Boniface Diocesan High School, which is located next door to Holy Cross School. Delaney Kolowca was born with Gorlin syndrome, a genetic condition that can affect many areas of the body and increases the risk of developing various cancerous and non-cancerous tumors. Delaney has encountered many challenges with her illness and Buccini said she “always remained positive with a happy spirit and a remarkable attitude that she was going to make the best of it.” Buccini went on to say that she was an inspiration, and it will be an extreme privilege to give this brave girl a specialized wheelchair in 2017.