Hope Classic helps families cope with costs of spina bifida

They don’t look like much, just a thumb tab of aluminum really. But for kids with spina bifida, the tab on top of your Coke can is invaluable.

They don’t look like much, just a thumb tab of aluminum really. But for kids with spina bifida, the tab on top of your Coke can is invaluable.

The Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of BC uses the funds raised through pop tab collections to help families offset the costs of necessary equipment such as wheelchairs and leg braces.

Just as the Hope Classic does.

Brad Hagkull, organizer of Chilliwack’s Hope Classic, hopes this year’s event will inspire even more people in the community to start collecting pop tabs for the spina bifida association.

The sixth annual Hope Classic, a run, walk, or wheel event is this Saturday. All funds raised go to the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of BC’s equipment fund.

“Largely the public has no idea the costs of equipment for kids with spina bifida,” said Hagkull, whose 12-year-old son Benjamin has spina bifida.

Benjamin’s wheelchair cost almost $6,700. His custom-fit leg braces, which are plastic boots with straps that go from his mid-calf to toes, cost $1,755.

“And kids grow, so probably once a year, every couple years, we’re having to get him refitted,” said Hagkull. “Thankfully some of our extended benefits cover that, but there’s families from all across B.C. and the Yukon who don’t have a network like that and have to somehow come up with the full shot.”

Every year the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of BC enables families to apply for $1,000 grants to offset the costs of mobile aids. It’s able to do so through fundraisers, like the Hope Classic, which on average raises between $25,000 and $30,000 a year for the equipment fund, and pop tab collections.

In Chilliwack, local schools, businesses, concession stands and service clubs “are getting calloused thumbs on our behalf,” said Hagkull, who just last week was presented with over 400 pounds of aluminum tabs from the Chilliwack Kiwanis Club.

“These tabs are a high grade aluminum … they make it easier for families like ours to access funds to purchase equipment for our kids.”

The Hope Classic is a family friendly event beginning at the Lions Club Hall on Hope River Road at 9:45 a.m. There’s a 5 km and 8 km route for participants to run, walk or wheel.

The motto that was started six years ago continues today: Finishing is winning.

Registration booths will be set up at PriceSmart Foods on Yale Road on Thursday and Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.. The event will also take registrations the day of, prior to the start.

Registration is $20 per person, $60 per family of four. Kids five and under can participate for free.

For more information, visit the website www.hopeclassicbc.com.

kbartel@theprogress.com

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