The community rallied, and now Dacian Fillipescu and family have a van to call their own.
The 11-year-old, who lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, was the beneficiary of the Lake Hill Community Challenge, a campaign by led by the Fillipescu family’s friends and neighbours to raise $45,000 for the wheelchair-adapted van.
The challenge started last summer and ended in June, with the purchase of the vehicle. Money came in from events big and small, as well as out-of-pocket donations from local supporters.
The van has given the family a new independence, and is making life simpler again. Errands such as grocery shopping were limiting.
But the first shopping trip with the power chair, which wasn’t possible before the van, was a liberating experience.
“(Dacian) is able to take his power chair anywhere and be more active,” said mom Delia.
“The other day we took the chair for a walk to the neighbourhood park and played hockey. He was smiling all the time and jokingly called my husband and I slowpokes,” she said.
The family’s already been camping and is planning to camp more this summer. Next summer they’re eyeing a long road trip to the Grand Canyon.
On the flip side, the van marks a new step in the progression of Dacian’s condition, but it brings so much independence, joy and a sense of belonging to him, Delia said.
It’s been a year of growth for the Fillipescu family and those who contributed to the Lake Hill Community Challenge, which was parent-supported, and kid-driven, including many of Dacian’s Lake Hill elementary school friends, said co-organizer Angelika Fox.
At one point, Dacian’s friends were overwhelmed when their lemonade stand was visited by members of the Saanich Fire Department, engine and all.
There were bottle returns, a book sale, a Lego building bonanza hosted by the Victoria Lego Users Group, a garage sale, and a $3,700 cheque from Cascadia Liquor Stores, among other sources.
Dacian plans to use the power chair to walk to school with his friends as he begins Grade 6 at Royal Oak middle school in September.