Going to the wall for wheelchairs

Dickens British Museum is featuring a wall of wheelchairs in recognition of the "celebrities" who've donated for those in need.

Fred Hails of Dickens British Museum has created a Wall of Wheelchairs. Over the past two years

What do Charles Dickens, Sherlock Holmes, Mahatma Gandhi,  Michael J. Fox, and Chilliwack’s own darling Jean Scott have in common?


Sort of.

Walk into Dickens British Museum and a Wall of Wheelchairs is there to greet you. A wall featuring the aforementioned names and those of several more who gave mobility to those most in need – under the guise of Fred Hails.

For two years the Dickens owner has been purchasing wheelchairs for the Canadian Wheelchair Foundation, a non-profit organization that gives wheelchairs to those living with disabilities in third-world countries.

Children who couldn’t go to school because they had no mobility. Adults living out their lives in a corner on their family’s floor because they had no mobility. Seniors forgotten, and essentially left to die, because they had no mobility.

“Wheelchairs give them mobility, independence, freedom,” said Hails.

“You hear the stories, the young lad, who had to been taken everywhere in a wheelbarrow, who had never been to school, but now, with a wheelchair, he can go to school.

“I could give money somewhere else, but this is so heartwarming, and there is no end to the need.”

It’s estimated more than 100 million people worldwide are in need of a wheelchair, but can’t afford one. In developing countries, roughly three per cent of the population is disabled from such hardships as war, disease, accidents, and limited healthcare. In countries with ongoing conflict and civil war that number is as high as 20 per cent.

And in most cases, immobility means no education, no employment, no societal integration.

Hails, a longtime Rotarian, got the idea to start regularly donating to the foundation through Chilliwack Rotary, which already actively fundraises for the cause.

Every year he aims to purchase a minimum of 100 wheelchairs. This year he’s purchased 47, with plans for 30 more over the next couple months. In total he’s purchased 170.

One wheelchair costs $150.

Rather than put his name on the donor form, he opts for the names of significant people in his life –British characters, real and fictional, musicians, inventors, politicians, the Royal family, heck, even Santa Claus and Snow White have made the list.

“I’ve got to buy them anyway, so why not have a little fun with it,” said Hails, who has names popping in his head like kernels in a popcorn machine.

“I’m always waking up in the middle of the night with another idea,” he laughed.

For every donation made, a personalized certificate of appreciation with a photograph of a wheelchair recipient is provided. Those certificates are what cover Dickens Wall of Wheelchairs.

“One wheelchair at a time, we’re changing the world,” said Hails.

Dickens British Museum is holding a monthly draw contest; each name selected be used for the next wheelchair donation.



Just Posted

Rainbow crosswalk coming to Chilliwack school district parking lot

Fractious debate at school board meeting ends with 4-3 vote

Hard rock tribute band Led Zepagain returns to Chilliwack Cultural Centre

‘It’s as close as you’ll ever get to the real deal,’ says Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page

Mayor and city staff stay mum on possible Abbotsford aerospace plant

Economic development staff have met with a U.S. firm looking for places to build a large plant

Chilliwack chef comes home to offer ‘super-addicting’ flavours at Royal Hotel

Jason and Miranda Harper took ownership of the Royal Hotel Café and Wellington Local House in August

Highway 1 closed at Herrling Island

Westbound traffic is stopped, and some cars have been seen driving the wrong way on the highway

‘It’s almost surreal’: B.C. fire chief, sidekick Sammy recap rescue mission in Bahamas

Chief Larry Watkinson and Sam the disaster dog spent 8 days assisting a search and rescue team

Break out the tiki torches: Open fires allowed again in B.C.’s coastal region

All open fires allowed effective at noon on Sept. 18

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re ‘stepping away’ from ice dancing

The pair thank fans for their support in an emotional message

Kamloops high school evacuated after receiving threat

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Woman held at gunpoint during carjacking in UBC parkade

University RCMP say the vehicle is still missing, and two suspects are at large

VIDEO: Angry B.C. cyclist starts shaming dangerous drivers online

‘You motorists deserve all your costs and misery’

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Most Read