Central Park: Wheel deal

Recreation programmer Bruce McLellan, formerly of Riley Park Community Centre and now of Mount Pleasant, has accomplished many things in his career, but he says a challenge he completed this past week was the toughest.

McLellan spent the better part of three working days in a wheelchair for a fundraising initiative called Navigating Challenges with proceeds going to the ALS Society of B.C. ALS is often referred to as Lou Gerhrig's Disease.

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McLellan had no idea just how tough the challenge would be.

"And I'm in good shape," McLellan told me Monday. "But as soon as I hit that extra friction outside, I really struggled."

He adds moving around the Mount Pleasant Community Centre was no problem, but the difficulties began when he ventured outdoors. McLellan says the experience highlighted the problems people using wheelchairs for mobility face each day.

"If I hit the slightest hill, it was exhausting," says McLellan. "Or if I hit a spot where a tree wedged the sidewalk up, I couldn't get over it--and I have two working legs."

McLellan says his shoulders also ached following the challenge, which surprised the basketball-playing fitness instructor.

A sister of Gladys Bentlage, who lives with ALS, organized the challenge. Barb, who asked only to be identified by her first name, is too modest to take the credit for not just this challenge, but also a personal one, Treading Ground, which she recently completed as part of her fundraising efforts. Barb, who's been using a wheelchair for much of her mobility for a number of years, began working out with McLellan 18-months ago. And while Barb is still reliant on the wheelchair for some mobility, she's now able to walk longer distances. Beginning July 24 Barb challenged herself to walk 12 miles in three weeks on a treadmill, a goal she was able to meet. So far Barb's efforts have raised just over $3,300 for the society and are ongoing.

RUNNING MEN

The NPA has announced two new park board candidates.

The first is Gabby Kalaw, a business development manager for a software firm, who worked for the City of Richmond's parks and recreation department while at university. Kalaw says he looks forward to channelling his experience into "smart, resourceful management of the Vancouver park board." He adds, "We need to build an independent, accessible and independent park system that everyone can be happy with."

Realtor Jason Upton takes the second position. Upton says his business smarts helped him weather the 2008 economic crisis and he wants to bring his financial management skills to the park board. "Vision Vancouver has presided over the largest cuts in the park board's history," Upton said in a prepared statement. "It's time for a change. The park board needs passionate, creative people so citizens and visitors can continue to enjoy our parks for generations to come."

BEAVER FEVER?

I received an email from a reader who's concerned because in the past few months she's discovered two dead beavers on the rocks off False Creek. Not sure where to start, Dorothy wrote to ask if I'd heard similar stories. So Courier readers, has anyone else noticed dead beavers washing up on our shores?

sthomas@vancourier.com

Twitter: @sthomas10

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