A Campbell River mom who went to the media for help is overwhelmed by the amount of support her family has received from the community.
Earlier this year, Violet Shade’s son Rory was desperately in need of a laptop computer to help him communicate.
Rory has autism, Aspergers syndrome and a degenerative tremor which makes his hands shake. He’s also been blessed with a rare countertenor voice (he can sing five octaves) and is studying classical music at the University of B.C.’s Bachelor of Music Program, majoring in opera.
But the Carihi grad’s tremor has made it difficult for him to do the music notation that’s needed for his course.
“It’s progressively gotten worse and it’s made it so he finds it very hard to write, so we had to get a computer,” Shade said.
Shade turned to the government for help in getting Rory a new laptop and the programs he needs, but the family was turned down.
“In order to get disability grants you have to have a student loan but because he’s First Nations, he gets some of his costs covered by the band, so he got turned down for a student loan,” Shade said.
While Shade is from New Zealand, Rory’s dad is a member of the Campbell River Indian Band and the family lives on the reserve.
Having nowhere else to turn, Shade took her story to the media in March and after the story appeared in the newspaper, donations started to pile in.
One of the most notable donations came from the family of a friend, Justin Webb, who Rory comforted as he was dying of brain cancer.
“Rory went up to the hospital before he passed away and visited Justin and sang to him three or four times before he passed away,” Shade said.
“When his parents read the article, they had some money left that was donated in Justin’s name that they put towards the computer program.”
The Campbell River Indian Band stepped up to provide money to purchase a software program called Sibelius, a professional music program that lets you record music by tapping the notes on the computer.
There was also an anonymous donor from the family’s Presbyterian church who gave a large sum of money, and then there were all the donations from people Shade had never met before but who had read Rory’s story.
“He was deeply moved and he was very surprised at how generous everybody was,” Shade said. “It was very touching.”
Shade herself was overwhelmed by how the community stepped up to help a family in need.
“I have three special needs children and I don’t have a lot of money, so it was very nice to see, especially in a community where there’s a lot of people out there having a hard time like we are,” Shade said. “I just wanted to say how grateful we area because it really helped him when he was going through a really difficult time. The computer’s made life a lot easier for him.”
Shade said the computer has helped him greatly with his schoolwork. Without the computer, he was not able to write anything down because he couldn’t lift his pen off the paper.
“It was very limiting for him at university,” said Shade who added that Rory has big plans. “He wants to be an opera singer. It’s what he’s wanted to do since he was six-years-old. If his health holds up he wants to get his bachelors and get his masters after that.”