Mario in Motion Fundraising

On behalf of Mario and the organizers of the Mario in Motion campaign, we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone:  the donators to the “GoFundMe” page, the contributors of the prizes for the raffle, the many volunteers, and all those who bought tickets, for your kind generosity and making the Mario in Motion campaign an enormous success.  It exceeded all expectations!

Raffle winners are as follows:

First prize goes to Lorne Chomos of Vandelay Ventures Ltd.  Thank Lorne for donating the trip to Mexico back for auction to raise a further $2,400 for the Mario in Motion campaign. Ticket No 1152

Second prize, a 50” flat screen TV goes to Brenna Li of Burnaby.  Ticket No 0223

Third prize, a Surround Sound System, goes to Jeremy Dennis of Vancouver.  Ticket No 1188

Fourth prize, a pair of Canuck hockey tickets, goes to David Clive.  Ticket No 0444

Mario in Motion – An Inspiration

By:  Corey Fournier

My Longtime friend and colleague Mario Labuda went in for an MRI to determine the cause of swelling in his arms and came out a Quadriplegic!
Mario was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia Dec 20 1942 and emigrated to Canada in 1969 to join his grandparents in Jasper Alberta. He came to Vancouver in 1974 and fell in love with the city.

I have known Mario personally for over 20 years and he is one of the hardest working, most proud Canadians you will ever meet.   What has transpired in Mario’s life is an absolute travesty.

Late last fall Mario was experiencing difficulty opening his apartment door and getting change from his pocket due to swelling from his wrist to his elbow in his right arm. He went to St. Paul’s Hospital, received some medicine and was sent on his way. Five days later his left arm began to swell, and he returned to St. Paul’s. It was thought to be the result of a pinched nerve.  He underwent a routine MRI (15 Minutes) which temporarily caused him to lose the feelings in his arms and legs.
The results of the first MRI were inconclusive, and Mario was encouraged to have a second MRI, this time more thorough and lengthy (75-90 minutes).  Despite his anxiety Mario was also persuaded to have spinal fluid extracted which required multiple freezing to his discs.  They decided to anaesthetise Mario so he wouldn’t be stressed during the noisy/disturbing second MRI.
The result was that he came out paralyzed. Within an hour he was rushed to VGH via Ambulance to undergo sudden emergency surgery to remove a growth on his cervical spine (Neck). When Mario came to he was confused and disillusioned. What’s going on?? Why surgery?? It is unclear why the surgery was so rushed.
Shortly thereafter Mario caught pneumonia. His family was told to prepare for his death. They also suggested that he would be on a ventilator, feeding tube and zero quality of life. Mario’s brother Peter convinced him to show them what a fighter he was, and he astonished everyone by surviving!
While in the “step down” unit after his bout with pneumonia, they (VGH) “accidentally” sent Mario into kidney failure.  There was a kink in his catheter. Once again, he survived!

After all of this fighting, Mario was given physiotherapy and started to improve. He was initially told that he would be going to GF Strong (A renowned Rehabilitation centre for the disabled) so he might recover the ability to drive a power wheelchair with his hands.
After receiving the info about how to prepare for GF Strong, Mario was told he was not eligible.  Because Mario is over the age of 65 he doesn’t qualify for any disability assistance; No home nurses / No standard wheelchair / No power wheelchair / No Handicap vehicle service – Nothing!

What a kick in the face to someone who was NEVER the kind of person to claim EI, WCB or even Old Age Security because he didn’t want to take away from other needy Canadians. He paid his taxes from the day he arrived in Canada and has loved this country completely ever since.
Despite the pitfalls and disappointments, Mario continues to fight.  His positive attitude under these circumstances is nothing short of Heroic!

Now Mario is at George Pearson Centre.  Although he is receiving regular physiotherapy and treatment, the environment is less than ideal for someone as able minded as Mario. He has very few people to converse with and being the sensitive soul that he is, being around such disadvantaged and sad people in horrible situations would make it difficult for anyone to stay positive. Yet, he continues to be.
The Ultimate Goal is for Mario to continue his physiotherapy until such time as he can be moved to a facility closer to downtown where he lived and loved the city.  While at Pearson he is permitted to use a power wheelchair, but cannot take it with him if/when he leaves. The Good news is that Mario no longer requires the “chin drive” and has regained the ability to operate the wheelchair with a “saddle’ mechanism for his hand.
His goal is to be able to use the joystick to operate the chair. This will require more fine motor skills to achieve.

 But I wouldn’t bet against “SuperMario” as some of his doctors have nicknamed him.
A new wheelchair will cost $22 – 28,000. A used chair $12,000 + modifications to customize it another $5 – 10,000.

There are numerous other items a person in his situation needs; Cell phone with voice activation. Just  the ability to turn lights, a TV  or radio On/Off require additional expenses, along with certain medical equipment/expenses.

Please Band together with us in our efforts to help Mario improve his quality of life through the use of his own power wheelchair and the ability to make his remaining days as fulfilling as possible.  He certainly deserves our support and most certainly my respect for the courageous example he is for all of us.
Thank You!