They called it Operation: Get Grannie To The Bridge.
The family of Dorothy Goodwin wanted to do something special for her 94th birthday and so they took her across the new Elk Falls Canyon suspension bridge that opened in the spring. Born and raised in Campbell River, she’s always loved the falls and wanted to experience the new bridge which was built by the Rotary Club of Campbell River. Goodwin’s great-grandson Russell Spiers told his dad, Rob, that they should do something to get Grannie to the bridge.
“He came up with the idea of getting his great-grandmother into the suspension bridge because it is on her bucket list of things to do,” Rob Spiers said.
Rob happened to mention it to a co-worker who volunteers with Campbell River Search and Rescue (CRSAR). Within three days, they had it set up and Grandma got to check the suspension bridge off her bucket list on Oct. 17, a day after her birthday.
Campbell River Search and Rescue got hold of the city’s Trail Rider, a solid wheelchair-type device that rides on one fat-tired wheel and can be used on hiking trails. It has handles on the back to push the chair as well as handles at the feet to lift it over obstacles or guide it down steep slopes.
The weather didn’t cooperate but the rain didn’t bother Goodwin who was bundled up in a rain poncho, a Toronto Maple Leafs blanket (she’s a big Leafs fan) and a waterproof blanket. She was strapped into the chair and six Campbell River Search and Rescue volunteers, Richard Finch, Grant Cromer, Trevor Prevost, Mike Brazier, Dylan Baker and Jesse Katz-Totten, took care of Goodwin from the parking lot at the suspension bridge in Elk Falls Park all the way to the falls overlook then across the suspension bridge itself (with a couple of stops in the middle).
From the moment they set off Goodwin was all smiles. They roped up the chair to make sure it didn’t get away from them as they went down the many stairs and then escorted her across the bridge and back. Upon arriving back at the parking lot, Goodwin’s family members sang Happy Birthday to her.
“I’ve always been interested in the falls,” said Goodwin who was born and raised in Campbell River, “all through my life and when they put that bridge in, I just wanted to cross that just to have the thrill of doing it and it sure was. It was something really wonderful.”
The 94-year-old wasn’t the slightest bit nervous about the high bridge that can sometimes sway unnervingly when a lot of people are crossing it.
“It was fantastic. I really enjoyed it,” she said.
The family was so appreciative of the CRSAR volunteers doing that for them they made a donation of about $1,000 to them and are encouraging everybody in the community to support the organization. There is a “Donate Now” link on the CRSAR website (www.crsar.ca) that will process online donations. Cheques can also be mailed to the address shown on the website.
About the Trail Rider:
The Trail Rider is available to the public from the Community Centre and can be taken out on area trails to allow people with mobility challenges to experience the outdoors. It’s been as far as Strathcona Park and Mount Cain and you can book it for a day, a weekend or even a week.
There is no charge for the chair but you do need to put down a $100 deposit which is refundable when the chair is returned undamaged.
It is preferred that you call ahead to book the chair (250-286-1161) and then you come down and get an orientation session and then head off. The chair is light and easily maneuverable.