RIVER JOHN – Eric Heighton did not get to claim the prize of a wheelchair accessible van through the Mobility Awareness Month contest in which he was a semi finalist. But friends – old and new – are hoping they can still help the River John man come out a winner through a campaign to raise enough to purchase a van for him.
Eric Heighton hopes that someday he’ll have a van that will enable him to travel with ease. Friends are trying to raise enough to make that reality for him. SUBMITTED
Beth Sinnis knew Eric in high school more than 30 years ago and was reconnected with him after her sister told about his story on Facebook, where she checked it out herself. She learned that after spending 23 1/2 years as a marine engineer, Eric retired, but his life changed 10 years ago when he got up sleepwalking one night and fell down the stairs which left him a quadriplegic.
Since then he’s been essentially housebound.
“Maxine (Eric’s wife) made it so personal by writing updates on their daily lives. Once I read her initial letter to try to win Eric a van I felt I had to do something,” Sinnis said.
She was one of the people who helped cast more than 60,000 online votes for the man.
But after hearing he wouldn’t get the van, she decided to start a fundraising campaign to buy a van anyway. She figures they’ll need about $100,000.
“I am so proud to be a Pictou County native as even though it was disappointing they didn't win that van we are still working together and I truly believe we will get them one.”
Eric and Maxine are both touched by the generosity they’ve encountered and are hopeful that their dream might come true.
“Eric doesn’t get out of the yard very often unless it’s an absolutely necessary thing to do,” Maxine said.
Even for a trip to the hospital, she has to call an ambulance in.
What Eric dreams of most is being able to go to see his grandchildren in school concerts or other events. A van would enable him to do just that.
“It would mean the difference in the lifestyle I got where I’m basically stuck at home to being able to get out around doing things,” he said.
This week his friend from the service, Glen Cousineau, travelled to see him. He said he doesn’t mind making the long trip from Stellarton to see Eric, but would love to be able to have him over to his own place, where they could sit on his back porch and barbecue.
“It would mean the world of good to him,” he said.
Want to help?
Donations for Eric can be made at any Scotiabank in Nova Scotia. The transit number for the account in trust for Eric Heighton is 80903. The branch it’s listed under is Sackville. Donations can also be made through Paypal. A link is available on the Help Eric Heighton Win a Wheelchair Facebook page.