Darren Cameron, left, picked up his gift basket from Dexter Rundle-Woolcock, as he was the winner of a gift basket being raffled off at Dexter’s Butcher Block in support of Cookies for Coulson. The basket raised $1,500 toward the goal of purchasing a wheelchair accessible van for Coulson to use when at his father’s. Submitted photo

It all started with a caring grandmother and a bake sale.

Initially, she thought maybe she could raise a few thousand dollars to go towards the purchase of a wheelchair accessible van for her grandson, Coulson Mattatall. She soon discovered that wheelchair accessible vans, even good used ones, are expensive. With the help of family and caring members of the community the “Cookies for Coulson” fundraiser was created to help assist with the cost.

Who is Coulson?

Coulson is a funny and outgoing, local 18-year-old boy who loves sports, movies, and practical jokes. He also happens to have cerebral palsy and as a result uses a wheelchair in his daily life.

Why does he need a van?

In 2016, Coulson underwent surgery to have rods inserted into his back to help with his posture. Since having the surgery, he can no longer be lifted without the use of a medical lifting device or moved without his wheelchair. Up until this surgery, his father was able to transport Coulson in his vehicle by lifting and carrying him. For Coulson’s safety, this is no longer possible and his transportation is restricted to wheelchair accessible vehicles.

Doesn’t Coulson have a van?

Coulson’s mother has a van. However, like a great number of children, Coulson’s parents are divorced and share joint custody, which means a van is needed by both parents. As with any other child who splits their time between their parents, both homes need to be equipped with the essentials like a bed. In the case of a child with medical needs, the requirements are greater; this means both homes need wheelchair ramps, lifting equipment, hospital beds and accessible vehicles.

What is the fundraising goal?

A new wheelchair accessible van can cost around $60,000, depending on the modifications that are needed. Used wheelchair accessible vans are not readily available, and the ones that are usually have high kilometres and high price tags. The purpose of the fundraising effort is to purchase a good, reliable wheelchair accessible vehicle, this does not necessarily mean a new vehicle but it is anticipated that between $40,000 and $60,000 will be required depending on the cost of the vehicle available at the time.

Last fall, an anonymous donor stepped forward and pledged to match the first $10,000 raised. What an incredible gift! After countless pies, donuts, cookies, and Christmas wreaths, and with the support of wonderful individuals and groups in our community, we are pleased to announce that over $13,000 has been raised. True to their word, the anonymous donor recently presented a cheque for $10,000 to Cookies for Coulson bringing the total to just over $23,000.

A van has been found right here in the community, and we now know our goal. We need to raise an additional $17,000.

A huge thank you goes out to the anonymous donor for their generosity, Dexter Rundle-Woolcock (Dexter’s Butcher Block) for his incredible support, and to the Sharon United Church for their pancake supper that helped Cookies for Coulson to reach the first goal of $10,000. Thank you to the IOOF, Lions Club, Rebekah Lodge, and all of the individuals who have supported the fundraising efforts and given donations. What an amazing community!

Freedom Rebekah Lodge presented Coulson Mattatal a donation of $300 towards Cookies for Coulson, raising funds towards a wheelchair accessible van. Pictured with Coulson are Noble Grand Brenda Budd, Sharon Mattatall, and Mae Clark.
Submitted photo