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Volunteers: my heroes


Listen: can you share five minutes with someone this week? Five minutes — 300 seconds.

Maybe that’s the amount of time you spend on a social media channel, or answering emails or making phone calls to your friends. That’s all important stuff and I encourage you to keep doing it.

Five minutes.

No more, no less.

Because volunteers are the people — the bloodline of every community, really. 

Without volunteers like Maxine Bradley, I would not be typing this column with my own hands.

I didn’t breathe on my own for the first 45 minutes after I was born, causing brain damage. I live with cerebral palsy, and as a baby I didn’t crawl, which programs your brain.

My parents heard of a program out of Philadelphia to re-train the brain. We made 18 trips to Philly in five years. The people at the Institutes for the Achievements of Human Potential instructed my folks on exercises to be done back in Edmonton.

The main exercise was called a pattern. I was laid face down on a table and four people put me through the motions of a baby crawling.

Here’s the thing that overwhelms me every time I share it, five decades later: we had 116 neighbors, friend, church-mates, and relatives come to our west end home every week.

We did eight patterns a day, 365 days a year.

We began at 9 a.m. and covered the patterning table up for the night 11 hours later. Santa Claus himself came to help with a pattern on Christmas Day.

Every pattern last five minutes.

And because of those 116 volunteers and two parents who opened their home for five years, I progressed. I could open my hands, bend my legs, sit up without tumbling backwards and began to talk.

We did that. One pattern at a time.

Five minutes at a time.

I worry, though. I am concerned a community might not do the same today. We live in a different world than we did in 1966 — we have so many other things soliciting and begging for our time that, unfortunately, volunteer numbers aren’t where there once were.

And what does that mean? How is that impacting our communities and the potential everyone has?

I don’t have a set-in-stone answer. But I am fearful there may not be the same support from volunteers.

I really don’t know. I am fearful, though. Because you never know who is need of in need help.

Volunteers make things happen. We see it and feel it.

But perhaps we can care even more.

So, in honor of the tens of thousands of volunteers, and specifically those who were such a big part of my life.  I ask you to think of someone you know that could use a little help.

So …. Can you please share five minutes?



















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Written by 

Follower of Christ, husband, father, grandfather, Edmonton Sun columnist, Oiler Entertainment Group writer, co-author of Disabled? Hell No! I’m a Sit-Down Comic, speaker, comedian, Challenge Insurance special projects advisor, former Edmonton Journal columnist, vice-cjair of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities and closet Beverly Hillbillies mega fan and (very small) closet disco singer.

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