ANTIGONISH COUNTY, N.S. - A GoFundMe page has been set up for Bayfield’s Chris Ehler who has been living with multiple sclerosis (MS) since 2002.
The page was created July 25 by Chris and his wife Laura Lee for the sole purpose of helping the family purchase a wheelchair accessible van so that Chris can attend family functions, particularly events such as his son Nicholas’ ball games and daughter Maddie’s dance recitals.
“I’ve been getting worse and worse,” Chris said, as he and his family attended a craft and vendor sale, held as a fundraiser towards his GoFundMe goal, July 28, at the Heatherton Community Centre.
“I’m having real issues getting in and out of vehicles … I’ve taken a couple of falls.”
He said many people told him and his family they should pursue the purchase of an accessible van.
“We didn’t really know how to go about it,” he said. “People suggested a GoFundMe page.”
While a family friend helped with the page, the same friend suggested Chris and Laura Lee actually put it together because it would provide a more personal touch. It certainly does that as the couple provides details of Chris’ battle with MS which begins with losing his mother to the disease the same year he was diagnosed.
“About two months after his mom passing away, Chris seen a flashing light in his vision, then tingling and pins and needles in his toes on his right foot; then, the next day, it was in both feet and next going up both his legs,” a passage on the page, written by Laura Lee, reads.
“He knew, even though this horrible affliction is not supposed to be hereditary, he knew this was not normal and wasn’t going to be good.”
Chris noted he kept working for another eight years and moving around minus a wheelchair for 10, but MS has been consistently chipping away at his mobility, strength and independence.
The GoFundMe passage notes he fell three years ago and fractured three vertebrae.
“A wheelchair accessible van would mean so much to our family,” Laura Lee’s passage reads.
“Chris would be able to go again to things he loves and still enjoys. Like the movies, weekly crib tournaments, his son’s baseball games, his daughter’s dance recitals, visit friends and family, a stroll on the Halifax waterfront, the farmer’s markets, got to medical appointments here and in Halifax, and maybe even a dance.
“If Chris had an accessible van, he wouldn’t have to transfer from his wheelchair to the car. He could just stay in the power wheelchair and drive it into the van, or if we could get a van where the passenger front seat comes out of the van; he could easily sit in the front seat without much difficulty. It would eliminate the chance of falling, banging his head and bruising his arms from trying to get into the car. It would help me, as it would be so much easier to take him places.”
Chris said they have looked into wheelchair accessible vans, new and used, but it’s early days and he understands it may be a while before they’ll meet their financial goals.
“I don’t go very many places anymore,” he said. “It’s just so hard to get in and out, and move around in the manual wheelchair.”
Laura Lee’s words on the page conclude with the heartfelt request.
“Please donate to help make our families’ dream come true and give some quality of life back to Chris,” it reads.
The name of the GoFundMe page, with the complete passage, is ‘Chris and his family need your help’ and includes a recent family photo.