Chilliwack family hopes for push in drive to find new wheels

Variety Club helps with the replacement of an aging wheelchair van, but more money still needed

The Bruneski family is in need of a modified van to help get their son Isaac (centre) around

The Bruneski family is in need of a modified van to help get their son Isaac (centre) around

Anyone who knows Isaac Bruneski is well aware of his special talent, and charm.

“He will encourage you and do everything he can to make you smile,” says his dad, Chad Bruneski. “The best thing he can do in a day is make you smile.”

The 12-year-old has this “beautiful demeanor” despite the frustrations he faces. Isaac has cerebral palsy, with very severe spastic quadriplegia, and spends his entire day in a wheelchair. He needs help eating, dressing himself, and of course, getting to and from places.

“He loves to have fun and experience things and there are a lot of frustrations in his life,” Chad says. “He’s a really engaged kid. He makes the most of what he can, and that’s in his personal interactions with people.”

He loves school, watching the Canucks, and listening to music. Isaac was recently the winner of the Principal’s Award, which is presented for perseverance, hard-work and setting an example for others.

But his interactions could soon be severely limited, as the family’s van is inching toward its final days. And anyone who knows the challenges of moving someone with cerebral palsy knows those modified vans don’t come easily. They’re current van has been good to them, but they don’t want to be left in the lurch.

“We have an older ‘95 wheelchair van, it’s not that efficient and it’s kind of starting to see the end of itself,” Chad says. “We are very dependent on it. It’s the only way we can get Isaac around. But those type of things are little bit tough to find. We just can’t go and grab a used vehicle.”

And as could be expected, they are also very pricey.

“A vehicle of this kind would cost $76,000,” Chad says. “You’re taking a cargo van and you’re having it modified.”

It’s the modification that really adds to the cost, at anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000 to have it outfitted.

In addition to the need for an outfitted vehicle, the Bruneskis are thrilled to be expecting to grow their family soon. They are very close to the end of the adoption process, to welcome two more children into their family. That will bring them up to five children, making a van even more necessary.

Not wanting to see the lovely Bruneski family stuck at home without proper transportation, their circle of friends have planned an event to help fund-raise for a large portion of the van costs. The Bruneskis don’t expect the fundraising to cover all the costs, and are planning on financing whatever isn’t raised.

“We are going to be about $55,000 short,” Chad says. They’ve been lucky to have funding approved through both the Variety Club and President’s Choice, but that funding needs to be spent within the next six months, or it will be lost.

“It’s a little bit of a catch-22,” he says. “It’s a real blessing to have the money.”

But it needs to be spent quickly, and it needs to be on a vehicle that will take the family through the long haul. That means it needs to be new or nearly new.

They were thrilled to learn about the fundraiser being planned on their behalf, as well as a fundraising page.

“It’s such a humbling experience,” Chad says. “It’s pretty amazing.”

He is a part of a non-profit foundation himself, and is very aware of all the competing needs in the community, great and small alike.

“I see the need all the time. I know there are people who could use many things,” he says. “And I know this is a big ticket item, it’s not something you can just grab and go easily.”

The new van will allow the family to get Isaac to his physio appointments, youth group, and their regular jaunts into Children’s Hospital.

The fundraiser coming being planned is called Beats, Eats and Bids, and is being held Friday Oct. 21 at Central Community Church. It will be an evening of live music, great food and what is hoped to be an epic auction. Tickets are $20/person.

For those that can’t attend (or want a tax receipt) there is also a crowd-funding page set up at www.vanfund.ca, along with more information about Isaac, his family, and ways to help.