Val­ued ser­vice

Pat & the Ele­phant cel­e­brates mile­stone and is in the midst of fundrais­ing drive

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - BY DAVE STEWART THE GUARDIAN dstew­art@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/DveSte­wart

Pat & The Ele­phant changes lives. A4

When she was par­a­lyzed as a child, Char­lotte Kil­lorn never dreamed that she’d be able to get around easily.

The Char­lot­te­town res­i­dent says all that changed thanks to Pat & the Ele­phant.

“It’s got­ten me back and forth to high school, col­lege, any of my med­i­cal ap­point­ments, any­thing I’ve needed,’’ Kil­lorn said Thurs­day.

She’s used the trans­porta­tion ser­vice for more than 20 years now.

Pat & the Ele­phant is cel­e­brat­ing a mile­stone this year. It has been 40 years since founder Pa­tri­cia Rogers rec­og­nized the need for ac­ces­si­ble trans­porta­tion and pur­chased the first adapted van. It was large and white and when some­one re­marked that it was as big as an ele­phant, the name stuck.

“It’s made it much, much eas­ier to be mo­bile. There are so many sto­ries where I’ve been stranded some­where and they’d come get me - through health prob­lems, wheel­chair prob­lems, doc­tor ap­point­ments, if they can fit me in, they fit me in,’’ Kil­lorn said.

Hal­bert Pratt, who man­ages the ser­vice, said there have been bumps in the road over the years.

“There were times we al­most lost the busi­ness; hardly able to make ends meat. But it’s come through, thanks to the gen­eros­ity of a lot of peo­ple,’’ Pratt said.

Pat & the Ele­phant ex­panded about five years ago, of­fer­ing non-emer­gency stretcher trans­porta­tion.

“We can do both at the same time. We’re (also) do­ing nu­mer­ous out-of-province calls.’’

The fleet op­er­ates out of the Kay Reynolds Cen­tre on Wood­ward Drive in Char­lot­te­town. When Pratt started it was op­er­at­ing with three trucks, one of which had more than one mil­lion miles on it and went through five trans­mis­sions, eight brake jobs and at least two mo­tors.

The fleet is now com­prised of seven vans.

“We had a pol­icy at the time where we had to have the cash be­fore we could buy a new ve­hi­cle.’’

A fundrais­ing drive is cur­rently un­der­way to pur­chase two new vans to re­place ag­ing ve­hi­cles. There is some grant money avail­able through the mu­nic­i­pal and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments.

Main­tain­ing the other vans is also costly. A por­tion of one seat belt had to be re­placed at a cost of $139 while four tiedowns, which the wheel­chairs hook into, ran $789.

Pratt said the goal is to raise $40,000. Do­na­tions are trick­ling in from or­ga­ni­za­tions and cor­po­ra­tions such as RBC, Coop At­lantic, the Char­lot­te­town le­gion and Char­lot­te­town Y’Men’s Club.

Pratt said do­na­tions big and small are ac­cepted.

“We want to keep our peo­ple mov­ing. We’re their legs,’’ he said.

GUARDIAN PHOTO

The Char­lot­te­town Y’Men’s Club is do­nat­ing $3,000 to Pat & the Ele­phant to help with the trans­porta­tion ser­vice’s fundrais­ing ef­forts. Two of the vans in its seven-ve­hi­cle fleet need to be re­placed so the board of di­rec­tors is try­ing to raise $40,000. Pic­tured are Greg Peters, left, trea­surer of the Y’Men’s club, and Bill Ir­win, pres­i­dent of the Y’Men’s club.

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