Elk Valley residents have joined forces to raise funds for Fernie local, Gracie Lou Brulotte, who is in the market for a new wheelchair. The campaign, which began on Oct. 5, is already one-third of the way to reaching its $15,000 goal.
Brulotte, the founder of the Gracie Lou Foundation, an organization dedicated to removing barriers to social inclusion for those with disabilities, requires a new wheelchair due to a condition called Arthrogryposis.
“My wheelchair is my legs, without it I do not function on any level,” said Brulotte.
“To most people their legs would be considered priceless. They are a necessity for living. My “legs” have a cost, and the cost is generally so high that it often restricts people like me from being able to have the full life they deserve.”
According to Brulotte, disabled persons in BC cannot exceed $1,000 in monthly earnings or else they risk losing benefits for items such as wheelchairs. With Brulotte’s desired wheelchair worth up to $38,000, and the government covering roughly half the expenses, she is calling upon her community for help.
With the donations, Brulette hopes to purchase a Permobil wheelchair, a chair able to vastly improve the quality of life of users through features that will aid her in therapeutic aspects and reduce the amount of physical exertion needed to operate the chair.
“The chair will be able to handle the tougher terrain that Fernie is known for, which will help me to remain active and participate in outdoor activities,” said Brulotte, who added that the Permobil’s Bluetooth capabilities would also allow her to operate various pieces of technology via her chair.
“For example, I’d be able to control my computer and phone through the wheelchair. Because I am so active in the community, managing two local non-profits…. as well as being employed, this feature will be a huge game changer for me.”
Anyone looking to donate to Brulotte’s campaign can do so online via her GoFundMe page, or by filling up with debit at Fernie Cardlock who is donating four cents per litre.
Brulotte will also be hosting a Canadian tuxedo-themed live music night and silent auction fundraiser on Dec. 4 at the Grand Central Hotel. The event, which will be both live and streamed online, will feature Fernie musicians, auction items donated by local artisans, and all-you-can-eat Indian cuisine. Tickets for the socially distant event are $50, and include meal and entry. Anyone interested in donating to the silent auction can contact Brulotte via firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I am truly grateful I have a wonderful community willing to support me to achieve the best quality of life possible, as I know many others are not so lucky,” said Brulotte.
“Words are not enough to say how thankful I am for everyone who has donated thus far, especially with the tough times we are facing right now.”
For updates, visit Brulotte’s Facebook page, Wheels for Gracie Lou.