Volunteer drivers offer Wheels of Hope to those living with cancer

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Main photo: (From left) Jim Snell, Tim Craine, Pierre Couture and Edd Groomes are all volunteer drivers with the Canadian Cancer Society’s Wheels of Hope Transportation Service program and encourage others to volunteer. (Mandi Hargrave)

For residents living with cancer, getting to their treatment appointments can often be a challenge, both financially and physically.

To help offset this burden, the Canadian Cancer Society offers the Wheels of Hope Transportation Service.

“Volunteers take clients to their cancer-related programs. It’s neighbours helping neighbours,” said Brenda MacGregor, senior manager with the Canadian Cancer Society’s Simcoe-Muskoka Community Office.

“The service is available for people who need transportation and we’re always looking for more drivers,” added Lynne Smith, president of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Huntsville branch.

Currently the local branch has about 12 volunteer drivers.

“The need is there,” said Jim Snell, who has been a volunteer driver for eight years. “It’s fulfilling when you realize you’re helping people.”

Snell decided to join after seeing a poster advertising the program.

“I have the extra time, so I figured why not help people,” said Snell, who has known people personally who needed the service.

Tim Craine moved to the area about three years ago and thought volunteering with Wheels of Hope would be a great way to learn his way around Muskoka.

“I like driving. When my son played baseball we drove all over the province. I retired and thought, ‘let’s give it a shot’,” he said. “I’ve found parks and beaches I wouldn’t have known exist.”

When Pierre Couture retired from Air Canada he was looking for somewhere to volunteer his time. A friend told him about Wheels of Hope.

“I’m accustomed to driving to Toronto, so it works well for me,” said Couture, who has been volunteering for about two months. “It’s an eye opener. When you live in a bubble of your own life you don’t realize how much other people are suffering. [Clients] really appreciate what we’re doing.”

The volunteer drivers were recently recognized for their efforts with at a luncheon on Nov. 20.

“We’ve had an influx of clients,” said MacGregor. “The worst thing we hear is when people say, ‘If I had only known about this service sooner.’ We hope people don’t need it, but it’s here for those who do. It’s due to the generosity of our volunteers and donors that fund the program. It’s not government-funded. We rely on the generosity of the community and public donations.”

To become a volunteer driver or to begin using the Wheels of Hope service, call 1-800-338-6610 and ask for Francis Vetter.

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