Legion representatives, including President Iain Weikl (back right), Vice President Sean Cuppens (back left) and HUB Chair Susan Perry (back center), surround Airforce Veteran Mr. Don Watts (seated) as they present him with his new electric wheelchair.
When Mr. Don Watts ventured down to the HUB one day, about two months ago to speak to the organization's Chair Susan Perry, little did he know how one conversation would change his life.
"Mr. Watts had just moved back to town recently and he was having a lot of trouble getting around." said Susan. "As we were chatting he shared with me that he was actually an RCAF veteran. So after he headed back home, I went across the hall to speak to the guys at the Legion." And this is where the ball really got rolling.
But first, let's put a little background to Don's story in order to better understand recent events.
In 1957 a very young Don joined the Royal Canadian Airforce and served our country for the next three years as a Leading Aircraftsman. Over the course of his life, he remained a working pilot and he has lived in many places across Canada. But, 25 years ago he finally decided to settle down and called Leduc home for the next ten years. The next move did not take him far from his chosen home as he then moved to Devon for fifteen years, but last September, due to health issues and various other reasons, he was finally accepted into a senior's subsidized housing complex and moved back to Leduc.
Don has had many health issues over the years but he has fought through some incredible odds and refused to give up even when the numbers looked pretty bleak. For example, he is a five time cancer survivor, and in the last year and a half he has suffered two strokes. It was the strokes that finally drove Don to venture down to the HUB to find out if there was any sort of mobility assistance that he could qualify for.
"It's been pretty hard to get around." shared Don. "I get dizzy and fall down sometimes." Which makes a short journey to the grocery store or doctors office a potentially life threatening trip.
Don has been a Legion member ever since he was in the airforce, but it never occurred to him to check there for this type of assistance. Thankfully, once she realized Don was a veteran, the Legion was the first place Susan went for help.
Once the troops were mobilized, so to speak, things quickly fell into place and Legion members found a donor who was more than happy to provide an almost brand new electric wheelchair at a price that could not be beat.
The only problem was that the chair did not come with a battery, but Susan knew exactly where to go to order one. So the HUB made that purchase and within a short period of time, a brand new battery was installed in the chair.
"We were happy to work in unison with the HUB to help Don." said Leduc Legion VP Sean Cuppens. "This is exactly what we are here for, to assist our veterans. The cost of the chair was very reasonable and we were able to pay for it through the Poppy Fund."
So completely unaware of the machinations that had been going on between the HUB and the Leduc Legion, one recent Friday night Don was invited down to the Legion supposedly just as a guest for a buffet dinner. Little did he know exactly what was on the menu!
Always prompt, Don walked in right on schedule using his ever present cane for balance, was welcomed by Sean and then joined Susan at a table to chat for a few minutes. Don was then asked to step outside for a moment because Sean, Susan, and Legion President Iain Weikl had something to show him, and lo and behold, sitting right outside the front doors that he had just entered a few minutes before, was his new electric wheelchair. (Immediately after Don had entered the building Sean had managed to sneak the chair out behind him, right through the lounge where Don was sitting, and park it at the entrance without him catching sight of it!)
It took Don a minute to understand that this gift was actually for him and as he took a seat in it all he could continue to say in a voice cracking with emotion was, "Wow! Holy cow! Wow!"
He was quickly shown the basics on how the chair worked and his many years of flying planes obviously kicked right in because within seconds he was piloting around the parking lot with a huge grin on his face, without a care in the world, and with his now obsolete cane swinging from the back of the chair.
He directed the chair with nary a problem back into the lounge for dinner and everyone present gave Don a big round of applause as Iain introduced him as their newest member and explained to everyone that their hard work every year with the Poppy Fund really pays off when it gives tangible results such as Don's new wheelchair.
As dinner was served the reality of the moment finally hit, and with tears coursing down his cheeks Don confessed,
"This is just perfect! I'm ecstatic! I don't know how much to thank you guys! It's going to make a whole world of difference for me."
It is actually we who owe you the thanks Don. Thank you for giving of yourself and serving our Country. Lest we forget, and I'm very happy to say that this time we didn't.