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Polio survivors. People recovering from strokes or brain injuries. Children born with neurodevelopmental disabilities like cerebral palsy. These are just some of the 75,000 people March of Dimes Canada works with each year across the country.
“We really are trying to be the voice of people with disabilities, and March of Dimes is in its 66th year of helping [this demographic],” said Mary Lynne Stewart, national director of fund development and communications.
“Our over-arching goal is to make a difference for people who have physical disabilities.”
The organization first began during the polio epidemic in 1949, when Canadian mothers banded together to raise money for a cure and to protect their children from the disease. The women went door-to-door collecting dimes, and continued raising money for survivors even once polio was stamped out.
Today the organization operates under the vision of “creating a society inclusive of people with physical disabilities,” offering a wide array of programs across the country.
These include funding for people in need of wheelchairs or assistive devices, services to help those with disabilities find employment, a BeFriending program to connect adults looking for friends, assistance for some of Canada’s more than 31,000 polio survivors, camp retreats for youth with disabilities, and in-home care for people needing extra assistance.
“If you have a disability it can be a very costly thing, and it can be very isolating,” said Stewart, noting around one in eight Canadians lives with a disability of some kind.
“We really try to work not just with the person who has a disability, but to be caregiving for the family also.”
How agency funds are spent:
90.9 per cent goes directly to programs and services
6.6 per cent goes to administration costs
2.5 per cent goes to fundraising
What your money can do:
$ 10 per month funds one week of conductive education classes for a child
$ 15 per month funds a one-day skills workshop for a young adult
$ 30 per month funds one manual wheelchair for somebody living with a disability
Upcoming events and fundraisers:
March of Dimes biggest fundraiser is Rock for Dimes, which will be held in Toronto on May 6 at The MOD Club Theatre, 722 College St., and tickets can be purchased for $ 10 either online or at the event.
This year’s fundraiser features the Good Alibis, Nightshade and Oui B. Jamon.