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