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Marysvale family on its way to owning wheelchair-accessible van

Martin Croke, an 11-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, lives with his family in Marysvale.
Martin Croke, an 11-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, lives with his family in Marysvale.

MARYSVALE, NL — A Marysvale family's life will soon be made a little easier thanks to the generosity of people from all over Conception Bay North.

Martin Croke is an 11-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. According to his father Gary Croke, it was getting to be more of a challenge to manually lift the boy out of his wheelchair and into his rear-facing car seat. His mother, Carolyn Croke, is experiencing back pain as a result.

It was only a few months ago the family started to inquire about funding opportunities to support the purchase of a wheelchair accessible van, which costs approximately $74,000.

"People suggested — family and friends — why don't you start a fundraiser, and we put it out on Facebook," explained Gary. "Once one or two people joined on board, it just went from there. It was unbelievable."

The family recently ceased all fundraising activity.

"We made a down payment last Monday of $33,000 on a vehicle," Gary said. The van will be converted into a wheelchair accessible vehicle in Ontario before making its way to Newfoundland.

A cheque was recently presented to Martin Croke and his family totaling over $18,000.

Fundraising started in May, with a variety of different groups coming on board. Most recently, a cheque was presented for over $18,000 to the family at Powell's Supermarket in Bay Roberts. That amount included $5,000 donated personally from the business's president and CEO Dave Powell and $1,000 from Gary's co-workers at Atlantic Grocery Distributors.

Brigus' E&E Drive-In proved to be a big supporter too early on. An ice cream day dedicated to Martin's cause raised $8,000.

According to Gary, there were more groups still contacting the family in recent days expressing an interest in hosting fundraisers.

"There's even more organizations of people who've come to us wanting to do fundraisers, and we put a stop to it. We're not looking for $100,000," he said, adding the time is right for those groups to find someone else in the area needing support. "First when we started, we figured we would try to get half the money and finance the rest. That was our original plan."

Martin will take advantage of rear entry with the new van, allowing his younger siblings, Thomas and Jenna, to sit in the middle row.

"When we go out, we can go as a family," said Martin's dad.

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