New wheels and community support open opportunities

Local Paralympian Eddy Solla (right) has received a new wheelchair that will allow him to comfortably and safely work, travel and train.

Chilliwack Paralympian Eddy Solla (right) has recently been gifted a new wheelchair. Financed by WorkBC and organized through CSCL

Chilliwack Paralympian Eddy Solla (right) has recently been gifted a new wheelchair. Financed by WorkBC and organized through CSCL

Eddy Solla waited patiently at the bus stop in the morning of January 20, 2015.

But the bus didn’t stop for him.

So he waited for the next one. But it passed by him as well.

Fortunately, the third driver knew Eddy personally, and allowed him to board.

Little did those bus drivers know that they were passing by a Paralympic gold medalist. Nor did they know that they were making him late to the event where he would get his first job.

Eddy, who lost the use of his legs as a youth, was on his way to the Chilliwack Society for Community Living (CSCL) Supported Employment Services event, one of the many programs that CSCL offers to their clients.

Sharon Goldthorp, Vocational Counsellor at CSCL, supports Eddy in any endeavour he pursues. She had invited Eddy, who never had a job before, to participate at the event where employers in the community could get to know and potentially recruit CSCL job seekers.

“Everyone should have a job, no matter who you are or what you can do. It’s about independence,” Sharon explained.

Eddy quickly got talking with the Home Depot managers about his sporting events and goals. “They just loved him,” Sharon recalled. Home Depot decided to hire Eddy as a greeter, but one problem remained. How would he get to work?

The bus drivers had passed by him on that morning because they recognized Eddy as the young man who’s wheelchair had no brakes. It was a safety concern.

“The chair is older than I am,” Eddy revealed. It was donated to him by a former coach, but it lacked back support, the tires would regularly go flat, and the front casters were too small to venture off the sidewalk. For an athlete who loves adventuring outdoors, wheels getting caught in the grass is a big problem.

As Sharon and Eddy shopped for work boots, they told a client worker at Work BC about the bus incident. Motivated to help, she asked Sharon and Eddy to acquire quotes for a new wheelchair while she would see if funding was available.

eddy and danielTheir journey to various mobility stores lead them to Advanced Mobility in Burnaby, where they met former Paralympian Daniel Westley, who had lost his legs during a tragic train accident.

As Westley took Eddy’s measurements and had him try out various chair options, he also lent Eddy some temporary brakes that would allow him to take public transportation to his new job.

On August 14, after months of overcoming one hurdle after the next, Work BC approved the funding, and Eddy’s custom chair went into production.

Eddy first tried wheelchair racing and basketball as part of his physiotherapy plan when he was 10 years old. After five years of recreational racing, he decided he was ready to pursue it seriously.

His first big event was the Canada Summer Games in PEI in 2009, and he’s been racing competitively across Canada and around the world ever since.

He won a gold medal at the Canada Summer Games in 2011, and he’s broken Canadian records in 800 metre racing (2012), 1500 metre racing (2013), and recently, seated throw javelin (2015).

But after years of strength training and growing, now at age 20, Eddy has become so physically strong that he’s actually slowed himself down on the track, meaning that it was time to change sports.

“This is my first year competing in field events,” Eddy explained. He’s been training six days per week with coach Harold Willers in discus, javelin, and shot-put. He’ll be participating in smaller American and European competitions, trying to qualify for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“I’m working hard. I can get there, slowly,” he assured.

On October 15, Eddy made the switch to his new custom designed $7,600 wheelchair. Among the crowd in the CSCL office that day were Westley, Sharon, and Eddy’s father Windy. All were thrilled to see this journey come to fruition.

“When a chair fits right, it becomes a natural extension of your body,” Westley explained. Not only is Eddy’s chair precisely measured to fit him, it has bigger wheels to take him onto Chilliwack trails, it provides greater comfort and posture for long work shifts, and most importantly, it’s equipped with accessible and reliable brakes.

“It feels awesome,” Eddy enthused.

Sharon has worked tirelessly to get this chair, which will help Eddy to comfortably and safely accomplish many of his other dreams, like modelling and learning to golf.

“If I didn’t have Sharon, I don’t think that I could have a job, be a model, or have done this or that,” Eddy began. “Sharon has helped me with everything. I’m very thankful for her.”

And when asked why he chose burnt orange for his new ride, Eddy revealed that it was a tribute to Home Depot. “Just helping people,” Eddy said of what he enjoys most about working there, “It feels good to help people.”

wheel closeup


Read more: CSCL marks three milestones

Just Posted

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Chilliwack family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A new sign was installed at St. Thomas Anglican Church on Saturday, June 5, 2021 in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Community effort to install new sign at Chilliwack’s oldest church

‘We feel it’s a step in the right direction to bring the church up-to-date,’ says St. Thomas parishioner

Dennis Saulnier rescued his daughters, two-year-old Brinley (left) and four-year-old Keegan, after their truck was driven off the road and into Cultus Lake on May 16, 2020. Reporter Jenna Hauck has been recognized by the B.C. and Yukon Community Newspapers Association for her story on the rescue. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Chilliwack Progress, Hope Standard staff take home 7 Ma Murray awards

Jenna Hauck, Eric Welsh, Jessica Peters, Emelie Peacock all earn journalism industry recognition

A student prepares to throw a plate full of whipped cream at principal Jim Egdcombe’s face as vice principal Devin Atkins watches as part of a fundraiser at Leary Integrated Arts and Technology elementary on Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
The pied principals: Chilliwack elementary staff get messy for charity

Cops for Cancer fundraiser saw kids ‘pie the principal’ at Leary elementary in Chilliwack

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read