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Cam Tait relaxes on his back patio with friends, from left, Dirk Kelm, Harvey Hiop and Randy Yeo. For column in July 8, 2018 Edmonton Sun. SuppliedEdmonton

Harvey Hiop removed his glasses with his right hand — a signature gesture he has used as a grandfather of six, in the classroom where he taught for decades and now as a house renovator — and looked at the finished protect.

“I think,” he said, giving a few more seconds of thought, “we need some toilet paper.”

We were right on it — not for obvious reasons, it must be clear.

But for the first wheel-through of a brand-new ramp out to our condo patio.

My wife and I live on a ravine which we, honestly, think has one of the best Edmonton views. Because of water issues, the step out to the patio had to be elevated.

Only minor issue was it was too high for me to get out in my wheelchair.

I mentioned this, simply in passing, to my friend Randy Yeo on Sunday noon hour after a service at Zion Community Church. The next day Randy called to ask if he could bring over Harvey and Dirk Kelm — who quickly became known as The Three Amigos — to survey the situation.

Randy’s an electrician. Dirk is a machinist at the University of Alberta. Harvey renovates homes.
We didn’t need anything else.

Measurements were taken to match the width of my wheelchair and the width of the patio door. Ideas and thoughts were shared, and after an hour of designing a ramp system, The Three Amigos were off to create.

Then, Tuesday afternoon, my cell phone rang.

“We got your stuff,” Harvey said. “When can we install it?”

Thirty hours later the Three Amigos showed up.

Dirk came up with two pieces of metal and turned them into ramps. He attached the two with a bungie cord so they wouldn’t separate when they were on the living-room floor.

He also brought a piece of aluminum which was bolted right beneath the patio door.

Harvey, who has never met an electric drill he didn’t like, attached the piece under the door. Then, he drilled eight holes — two in each of the ramps, and four in the aluminum ledge.

Four big bolts were then tested for their size — two in each ramp — to see if they did the job. They did.

Harvey brought a piece of plywood — a mini ramp, really — so my chair would roll easily down to the patio.

And, here’s the neat thing: the ramps are all short enough they can be tucked away, under the ledge, when they aren’t being used.

Harvey Hiop helps Cam Tait break the toilet paper to inaugurate the brand new ramp onto Tait’s back patio. (Supplied)Edmonton

I could have asked The Three Amigos if I could share their story. But, I know they would have said no.

As a person with a disability, I see the kindness and generosity of people every day. I am an indeed a lucky man.

I know other people with disabilities have endless stories of friends helping them.

I’d like to know about them … and share them. Please use my email:

Oh, yes: the toilet paper.

“We need something for you to bust through the first time you use it,” Harvey said.

Within seconds, my wife served up a roll of the softest.

Harvey lined me up and away I went.

After which I enjoyed being on our patio for the first time in over a year, and shared a beverage with the friends who made it possible. 


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.


  1. Awesome! All the right stuff that brings out the best in people. And a photo finish at the end with drinks in hand!

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