By Sue Tiffin
Published March 20 2018
Mike Bachynski is a familiar face throughout Haliburton Village.
Depending on the time of day the former Cardiff resident might be seen at Community Living Haliburton where he works or engaging people on a friendly visit as a volunteer for Community Support Services. He’s often seen grocery shopping at Foodland out doing his banking hanging out with friends at Tim Hortons or heading home to his place at Echo Hills Apartments.
And the way he gets to all of these locations throughout the town is on his mobility scooter.
“It’s my means of transportation to get from Point A to Point B” he said. “For medical appointments at the medical centre I shop and my banking I work and my volunteer work. [Without it] I’d be housebound.”
But Bachynski’s scooter which he’s been using for almost five years now is in need of great repair often.
He uses a rental when the scooter goes for repairs in Lindsay but despite the efforts in upkeep the device is nearing the end of its use.
“There are numerous repairs with the scooter” he said. “Electronics go wrong with it. They did touch-up repairs on it and it won’t last too much longer.”
Bachynski was born with a form of spina bifida and had his left leg amputated under the knee in 2012 due to a bone infection. He uses a prosthetic to aid with mobility.
“I have to go up a hill to get to [my apartment] building and down a hill” he said. “With me having the prosthetic that I have that would put too much pressure coming up and down that hill.”
The Assistive Devices Program (ADP) provides funding for a power wheelchair but Bachynski said he feels unstable in it in his travels as though it might tip over. The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) offers financial assistance for transportation but Bachynski said the coverage only extends to trips that are medical in nature – meaning he’d be reimbursed for a taxi to the medical centre but not to the grocery store. He has to make any financial assistance he receives last for the month but wants to be active in the community so the scooter is his primary mode of transportation.
And so when he received news that repairs would no longer keep the scooter on the road and he would need a new one at a cost of thousands of dollars he turned to the community to help.
He started a GoFundMe page which was seen by friend Andrea Strano.
Strano said she had seen Bachynski post about the increasing unreliability of his scooter.
“I said to Jeff [Andrea’s husband] you know if Mike ever needs a new battery for the scooter we should just buy him a new battery” she said. “And then a few days later he posted on Facebook saying he needs a brand new scooter. Then I was like well I can’t buy him a new scooter!”
What Strano could do was help share a GoFundMe page with her friends in the community for additional exposure to Bachynski’s cause. More than $1300 was raised in two days of the page being posted. Bachynski’s goal is $4000.
“It was awesome because we got a really good response right away” she said. “I was a little bit shocked actually in a good way. I was really glad people reached out with options and suggestions.”
Besides the quick outreach of support with funding she said she heard from people in the community relying on disability support who had also struggled to complete paperwork or endure agonizing wait times for government funding for necessary devices.
“I didn’t know anything about this process until now” said Strano. “Now I realize and respect these circumstances that people are living in and they’re asking for help and it’s just one thing after the other.”
Bachynski who has co-opted the affectionate nickname of Hot Wheels Bachynski as his social media user name said the quick response to the GoFundMe page definitely surprised him.
“I was shocked” he said. “I’m happy to hear that people are understanding my situation. I put a notice on the GoFundMe page to say that they don’t know how much this is appreciated. Thanks a million just to show some appreciation.”
With luck Bachynski hopes to get his new scooter on the road by the summer. He’s looking at a Pursuit this time as it can come equipped with LED headlights for greater visibility.
“[The current scooter] has headlights but they’re very very dim so there’s times when people don’t see me when I’m crossing the road at night” he said. “If I get the one I’m trying to get that would be better.”
Strano said she’s hoping service clubs and the support of the community that knows Bachynski well will help him toward his goal.
“We can’t change the world and everything that goes on in a day” said Strano. “The only thing we can do is try to do small things all the time for people and all those small things add up to one big thing. If you change someone’s life for the better one person at a time then that’s good. [We’re] hoping we can make this pretty easy for Mike and he can just keep scooting.”
At press time the fundraising effort had collected $1435 of a $4000 goal. The “Let’s help Mike get a new scooter!” GoFundMe page can be accessed online at www.gofundme.com/lets-help-mike-get-a-new-scooter .