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Local Legion throws down the gauntlet to other branches
by Sandy Lindsay

April 8, 2016
www.saugeentimes.com 

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(L) Geoff Van Geem of Canadian Cancer Society Bluewater Office, Marilyn Noble President of Southampton Legion Branch #155 and John Willets, Canadian Cancer Society Saugeen Shores volunteer coordinator

When Canadian Cancer Society volunteer, John Willetts, presented a local financial need for the 'Wheels of Hope' program to Legion Branch #155 of Southampton, the members did not hesitate to unanimously agree to support it.

"My wife Jo-Anne and I built a home here 16 years ago and decided to move permanently in 2014," says  John Willetts.  "We got involved with Relay for Life last year and then the Canadian Cancer Society approached us to co-ordinate some programs in Saugeen Shores.  I had become an executive member of Branch 155 two years ago and, so, I though this was a perfect fit for the Legion to step up and help fund the needed program of 'Wheels of Hope'."

'Wheels of Hope' is a service where volunteer drivers provide return trips for patients from their homes to treatment centres, offering friendly support and kindness when patients need it most.

The demand for 'Wheels of Hope' continues to grow and, over the past two years, people using the service has risen 20 per cent.  One in five cancer patients cannot get to their cancer-related treatment appointments and, therefore, the 'Wheel of Hope' is in invaluable service.

In 2015, the program in Grey and Bruce saw 118 local volunteer drivers help 418 clients.  They drove 709,283km in more than 5,000 trips for a cost of more than $250,000.

In the past year, there have been 33 active clients from Saugeen Shores and the average cost per round trip from Port Elgin to Long Rgional Cancer Program is $115 and each client has to take approximately 10 to 17 rides.

The Southampton Branch 155 of the Royal Canadian Legion presented $1,995 to the Canadian Cancer Society, which funds the complete transportation costs for one patient traveling to care centres.

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Southampton's Sergeant at Arms, Chuck Schmaltz, also proposed that other Legions take up the mantle and match Branch 155's donation, particularly given that April is 'Cancer's Daffodil Month'.

If you would like to volunteer or donate please call  519-376-6011 ext. 3233 or 1-800-430-6228.

To know more about cancer, visit
cancer.ca or call Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.

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