People are awesome. In a world where most headlines, tweets and social media shares would have us believe otherwise, it’s important to remind ourselves of that. Sometimes, it means we have to shift our gaze from our screens and out into the real world to find the people who are making a difference. Kal Tire recently did just that when they set about finding Canada’s Road Heroes.
Through a contest run on their social media pages, Kal Tire asked for stories of amazing Canadians who were using their own personal vehicles to help get people in need fed, to doctor’s appointments, and to cancer treatments. It would seem that Canada has a whole army of road heroes running around doing good deeds, and I didn’t even know this was a thing.
Drivers are a vital part of the volunteer community, and are desperately needed by many organizations across Canada. Simply go to Google and enter “volunteer driving” followed by the province or city where you live and a list will auto-magically appear for you. Organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society, The Red Cross, and Meals on Wheels are always looking for volunteer drivers.
If you’re looking to be inspired, look no further than the eight amazing people below.
Not All Heroes Wear Capes, Some Drive Cars
The first thing we all need to do is acknowledge that Diane is life goals. At 78, she shows no sign of slowing down and clocked an incredible 17, 500 kms on her car last year volunteer driving. We should all have this much energy!
Like all moms on the brink, Diane initially started volunteer driving to catch a break and to get some much needed adult conversation. It wasn’t long though before the benefits of volunteering presented itself and Diane was hooked. For years she shuttled cancer patients for treatment, and now she works with a Lindsay based organization called Community Care Health and Care Network in the Kawartha Region of Ontario.
Our next hero answered the call, not once, but twice in his life to be a volunteer. 30 years ago George volunteered his time with the CNIB, and once his children were grown and he had more time, he returned to volunteer driving once more.
George drives roughly 9,800 kms a year getting CNIB staff to the homes of people who have recently become visually impaired. He also safely transports members of a CNIB youth group to activities, such as sailing. Offering his car, his eyes, and his heart, George is a role-model for us all.
Some people are destined to live their entire life in service to others. Case in point, Joe. A 35 year veteran with the police department, Joe retired and immediately started driving cancer patients to and from treatments.
Joe routinely puts 30,000 km on his car a year and transports patients four days a week. He is a compassionate ear, a safe ride, and a genuinely kind soul. We’re lucky to have you in our world Joe.
Trevor will never forget the man he drove to cancer treatments for 18 months, telling him it was his last ride with him. “I’m going to hospice tomorrow.” Most people when faced with that kind of pain might throw in the towel on volunteer driving that comes with heartache. Not Trevor.
A cancer survivor himself, Trevor not only provides a safe ride, but an empathy that can only come from someone who’s been there himself.
When Barbara was diagnosed with breast cancer, she made her way to the hospital alone for 35 days of radiation. Think about that. 35 days of doing it alone. 35 days of no one to talk to on the way to the hospital and home again. I can’t even wrap my head around the loneliness of this.
Not wanting to see anyone in her position, Barbara started volunteer driving, shortly after she began to feel better. Even when she was re-diagnosed with breast cancer, she only took a short break from driving others. With her eightieth birthday approaching, Barbara still drives patients every Friday, and no one is lonely on her watch.
So many of us take our next meal for granted, that we also take it for granted for the more than 4 million Canadians who are food insecure. Three times a week Randy offers a little stability to residents in Vancouver who rely on Meals on Wheels.
Randy says, “Making sure people can eat is something that’s always been important to me. I would hate to think of someone not getting to eat dinner because no one was willing to drive for them.” Sadly, there is a very real shortage of volunteers for this kind of service. So, the next time you’re pondering how you can help, remember to be like Randy.
If volunteering is a rewarding job, then Wendy is getting twice the benefits. Not only does she volunteer drive cancer patients three to four times a week, but she also helps co-ordinate up to 50 rides a week for other volunteers.
Wendy volunteers with the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society, and if you’ve noticed a trend of volunteer drivers for people with cancer here, Wendy explains why. “The average person will have to through 25 to 30 treatments and they can’t miss a day—it’s very important—but families just can’t do it all and that’s where we step up. It’s a really rewarding way to give back and the patients are so appreciative.”
It’s often not until we’re in a situation that requires helping hands do we realize there is a need. Such is the case with Peter who saw first-hand the need for volunteer drivers when his mom was diagnosed with cancer. After her passing, tragedy struck again, and Peter lost his leg in a motorcycle accident.
No longer able to work as a commercial vehicle driver, Peter decided helping others was his calling. Not only does he routinely drive cancer patients for treatment, Peter also donates every fuel subsidy payment he receives back to the society. Somebody get this man a cape!