After half a year of volunteer hours, months of events attended, and plenty of charitable contributions, the Swilver Wings Access Van Inc. (SWAVI) fundraising campaign has reached its goal.
Yesterday, members of SWAVI gathered at Bumper to Bumper with members from The Meadows. A $10,000 cheque was handed over, pushing them beyond the $140,000 threshold.
While the super-sized cheque was the official announcement, the actual money was sent to SWAVI days prior. As soon as they were able to, SWAVI ordered the van and got it on the production line.
Accepting the cheque on behalf of SWAVI was Tracey Schlamp, co-chair of the board for SWAVI. She and the others from the non-profit have spent countless hours for the last half year attending events like Market Square and Taillight Tuesday, taking donations and promoting their need for the van.
"Oh my gosh. On the floor. Very excited," Schlamp reacted. "All of our residents and committee members, everybody that's worked so hard, was just floored knowing that this business has supported us in the past and now came through with this huge donation. We're so grateful."
The van itself will be used by members of The Meadows to attend appointments, go to public events, and grant members the freedom that owning a vehicle brings. Being equipped to carry up to four wheelchairs and five regular seatings, this van opens up the whole road to everyone, not just those who remain physically mobile.
Presenting the cheque at the event was Leanne Tuntland-Wiebe, owner at Bumper to Bumper and city councillor for the City of Swift Current. Ever since she first became aware of SWAVIO and their cause at city council, she has been eager to support the endeavour.
"We really wanted to be the ones to push it over the edge and make sure that they got to order it rather than having to wait another week, two weeks, or a month," said Tuntland-Wiebe. "We wanted to be involved, as we're very community-minded and this is a community-minded project."
Once Tuntland-Wiebe heard that SWAVI was resting right on the finish line, she approached them with the $10,000 donation so that they could begin the order process right away.
"When I learned they were that close, I thought that's what we want to do," said Tuntland-Wiebe. "We want them to be able to order that van. When we gave them the check, they ordered it that night."
The folks who are most excited about this donation are those who will be using the van. Anita Penner, a member of The Meadows, spent her summer making key chains and charms for people, at $10-$15 each. By the end of the fundraising, she had amassed around $1,400, one charm at a time.
"I made key chains with beads, and some were SWAVI 'Silver Wings', those were $10," shared Penner. "The other ones were personalized. You could put your name on them and the colour you picked and on the bottom was a charm that you picked. Then I constructed it, and that one was $15. That went towards the van."
Another appreciative member from The Meadows was Thomas Stroud. Stroud attended every event he could, going to baseball games, car shows, and other events like Market Square. He issued a challenge to every farmer he knew, along with everyone else who knew his name.
Quite a few responded to their friend's challenge, contributing on his behalf more often than not.
"It's great," said Stroud. "Bet I could go for another 70 years now."
For now, the van will begin the process of being fitted with all the accessibility customizations that make it so desirable. Once it's completed and delivered, Penner plans to take it out with others for a victory lap.
"I'm going to go through Swift Current and we're going to honk the horn and make sure everybody sees we got a brand-new van!" said Penner.
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