Tagen Marshall can now ride in style, thanks to his new pal ‘Vinnie’.
Marshall, a young Parksville resident and Vancouver Island University student, was thrilled this week to take possession of his new ride, a 2022 Toyota Sienna hybrid.
The van, picked up Monday from Island Mobility in Victoria, will help open doors and aid with his many future goals, according to Marshall.
I’ve been honoured to have shared his story previously in this space. Marshall has spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, which requires 24/7 care. He was born at 26 weeks, weighing just more than two pounds. He didn’t leave the hospital until he was 2 ½ months old.
The cerebral palsy means his muscles will continue to tighten and contract his entire life, leaving him in constant pain.
Yet he continues to set an example for us all with his positivity, quest for learning and desire to assist others.
‘Vinnie’ is short for ‘Vincent Van Gogh’ (“see what we did there?” Marshall quipped). The final price tag was just north of $90,000, and the purchase was made possible by some hard work from Marshall’s own inner circle, plus the generosity of others via fundraising.
“It felt like running a marathon to get this,” said Marshall, who had been using an older van that was in need of significant repairs.
“This van purchase is the culmination of so many people coming together to invest in me as an individual, invest in my future goals. It means the world, it opens doors.”
Marshall is studying philosophy at VIU, with a goal of completing a doctorate and becoming a teacher.
He said the van will make attending university on-campus much easier.
“And with high gas prices, the hybrid function makes driving longer distances for family trips that much more doable,” said Marshall. “And it’s so nice to have a functional ramp again. Get in, go and do things. Even just for weekly daily grocery shops, being able to enjoy that is nice.”
Marshall said the old van will be sold.
“We’re working on fixing it up and will resell it and whatever we get from that will go into an account for next fundraiser,” he said. “A new wheelchair fund.”
Marshall reiterated his gratitude for all the people who donated to his cause.
“First of all, I know these words can seem like standard fare but thank you for choosing to be a part of this initiative, choosing to be part of my team,” he said. “Some of you I’ve met and talked with. Others gave anonymously. To everyone, both near and far, it means a lot to see the power of the community. To give out of your hard-spent time and to help me give back to the community I love means so much.”
Vancouver Island Free Daily/PQB News editor Philip Wolf can be reached at 250-905-0029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.