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Patrick LaForge spends the day in a wheelchair

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Oilers President & COO Patrick LaForge began his day like any other this morning. He woke up, stood in his second-floor washroom, brushed his teeth and walked downstairs where a new and exceptionally unique challenge awaited.

Together with the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Chairs team, with whom he is a member, LaForge spent the day participating in the Wheelchair Dare, organized by Muscular Dystrophy of Canada.

"The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce fully adopted [the idea] and decided that we should have a challenge amongst the chairmen of the board, present and past," he said. "Current chairman Bernie Kollman passed the torch and challenged us to step up and live in a wheelchair for a day.

"At the same time, we want to inform people on the awareness side and ask them to make a donation to Muscular Dystrophy of Canada and the Wheelchair Dare."

The most important tactic, as LaForge explained, was to "make it an average day."

Throughout his business-as-usual Friday, LaForge visited several locations across Edmonton, including TELUS Field and the Edmonton Oilers Head Office. He was able to fully to experience the challenges wheelchair users face regarding ease and accessibility on a daily basis.

"I went to TELUS Field and worked my way from the parking lot up through the doors into the barrier free seating," LaForge explained. "That worked out OK. There's a nice elevator there and the doors were wide enough. It's a nice city-owned facility and they obviously put some thought into designing it.

"And the seats are good," he added with a smile.

LaForge was only three hours into his day when we had the chance to speak with him. Even in that short period, he had experienced a gamut of challenges that helped lead to an honest and succinct opinion of his experience.

"I can honestly say I hate it. It's very uncomfortable. It's foreign, and just turning and doing simple things are nearly impossible right away.

"I didn't need any assistance or aid to get dressed in my house [this morning]. I'd hate to say that three hours gives me some appreciation. So much more goes into it."

Through hundreds of generous donations, LaForge has been able to raise over $31,000 to this point, far exceeding his early goal of $25,000. With his involvement in the Wheelchair Dare and further awareness being created for Muscular Dystrophy of Canada, he hopes that number will grow.

"I'm not trying to win anything. It would just be great if people made a donation," LaForge said. "It's the idea of being aware of the cause and people living in wheelchairs. If you can make a small donation or some donation–whatever you think you can share–that would be great, too."

Donations can be made to Muscular Dystrophy of Canada by visiting There you can choose to assist the cause with a general donation or support an individual, such as LaForge directly.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |
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