This summer, Grant Morley will be learning to drive.
At age 17, he’ll finally get the chance to climb into the driver’s seat and enjoy the open road. But before he does that, he’ll have to learn a few extra skills at a class designed to teach hand controls.
Morley needs a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy, which means when he does start driving he’ll be using hand controls instead of pedals. While it’s a barrier to driving, it’s not an insurmountable one.
The closest place to take the specialized driver training is at GF Strong in Vancouver this summer. The course runs for about a month, for several hours a day, ruling out the commute each day from Agassiz for Morley’s family.
In addition to living in Vancouver for the duration of the course, there is the cost.
Morley will be paying $85 an hour to participate, which comes to a grand total of about $5,000.
To help Morley get into the driver’s seat a little sooner, they family is holding a fundraiser next week, selling Indian tacos and holding a silent auction. That event is on June 21 at the Agassiz Legion. Morley’s mother Julie Schwass said that dozens of local business owners and merchants have already donated items for the silent auction.
Now they’re just hoping the community will show up to support Morley.
Despite not having a job, Morley has already saved several hundred dollars for his first car.
“He’s saving money,” Schwass said. “He’s got a car account, and considering he doesn’t even have a job, that’s pretty good.”
She says the small pool of work opportunities in Agassiz for teenagers is hard enough.
“Then you factor a wheelchair into it and there isn’t much there,” she said. Many of the local shops are too small to handle an employee in a wheelchair.
“He’s got a lot of strikes against him,” she said. “But he’s on the honour roll. Intellectually, he’s way above board.”
Morley is hoping to enter university after he graduates next year from AESS, with possibility of going into medicine.”
Morley has only recently needed the assistance of a wheelchair, she added, due to hip problems related to cerebral palsy.
To support Grant Morley in his efforts, visit the Legion June 21, starting at 5 p.m. for tacos, and 6 p.m. for the silent auction.