In SCI BC News

The last few months have been tough.  When COVID-19 hit, we were all thrown into a crisis.  I can tell you it’s been especially hard on people with a disability.

With record numbers of new cases of COVID-19 being announced every day, there’s no end in sight. As the pandemic drags on, it continues to take a toll on our mental health and well-being.

But you can help our most vulnerable neighbours during this trying time . . . people with a spinal cord injury. People like Karin.

Karin has had mobility problems from an early age. Then a car accident in 2003 fast tracked everything. She now relies on a wheelchair to get around. Karin lives alone in Comox and calls herself an introvert. She thought that might make it easier to cope with COVID life. Not so. Karin says the isolation is very difficult psychologically.

“I still want contact with people. You wouldn’t believe the grinding despair that can build up when you have a disability. You need to be able to talk with someone who understands.”

We know how important peer connection is. Probably even more now that we’ve had to cancel our usual in-person activities. But rest assured we’re still here. We’re just doing things a little differently. We quickly moved to online support as soon as the pandemic hit.

I have to say it certainly was a strange summer for everyone. Karin agrees. Who could have imagined that we’d be wearing masks and keeping our distance. The lockdown was especially frightening. Karin is grateful that a friend dropped off groceries at her front door to keep her safe. But she found it frustrating and confusing that the pandemic took away her self-sufficiency. Karin admits that sometimes it takes a lot to get her out of the house. At one point over the summer she couldn’t even bring herself to go out on the deck. That is until Karin found a purpose.

You see, the Comox woman heard that we changed our annual charity run to a virtual event this year because of COVID. It meant that Karin could take part from her hometown. And wow, did she ever jump on board! Karin challenged herself to wheel 21 Km in support of our programs. The race came at just the right time.  It pulled her out of her depression and gave her purpose. Karin completed the challenge and quickly became a fundraising superstar!

It’s no surprise that Karin’s biggest fan is Bert, our local Peer Coordinator for the Northern Island. He’s been there for her since the beginning. Karin can’t wait for COVID to be over so she can get back to the regular activities that Bert organizes in her area. Going adapted kayaking with the peer group last summer was one of the most freeing moments of her life. “I wept with joy.  Being on the water gave me freedom, a validation of self, a sense of capacity. To get that back is beyond powerful. In many ways it’s life-saving.”

For now, Karin, like the rest of us, is hanging tough and hopes that things will return to normal soon. But with the pandemic lingering on, we need to be prepared for what’s coming next. We are counting on your generosity to help Karin and others with a spinal cord injury get through these trying times.

I realize that many of us are facing our own challenges because of COVID. But I want to assure you that every donation, big or small, makes a difference to our most vulnerable right now. I encourage you to go to our website and check out the different ways you can make a gift. You may be surprised to know that donating stocks that have gone up in value is a great way to save on your taxes while supporting a cause you care about.

I wish you and your family continued health, safety and happiness. Please send your donation today and help people with a spinal cord injury thrive. We can get through this together.


With thanks,

Ed Milligan
Chair, SCI BC Board of Directors

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