Every parent wants their child’s graduation to be something special.
Tim Carlson went the extra mile to ensure Elijah’s was an unforgettable day.
Elijah Lund-Carlson graduated from Mark R Isfeld in Courtenay last week. One of the traditions for Comox Valley high schools is a “Classic Car Cruise” on graduation day. That was not going to be easy for Elijah, as he has cerebral palsy.
“My wife, Joanne, has always been vocal about the lack of accessible choices for our grads with wheelchairs,” said Tim. “It is not feasible to get Elijah in some of the traditional hot rods the grads have used in past parades. Hence my motivation for this project. I just thought it would be so neat to have him be able to be a part of that [cruise].”
The project started approximately 18 months ago, when Tim picked up a Honda Shadow and sidecar from Mission.
“I bought the sidecar and pulled the original pod off,” explained Tim. “I then built a prototype with an old wheelchair and dummy to get proper dimensions we could work with. I made a dummy, and a little box structure with the armrests and headrest exactly like his, so that all the parameters were set exactly.”
Once the prototype was designed, Tim called on Ocean Metals Custom Metal Fabricating to customize the design.
“Nuno and his team of fabricators at Ocean Metals designed the new sidecar to accommodate Elijah in his chair, mounted onto the existing chassis.”
Nuno Covas, owner of Ocean Metals, said the company absorbed a lot of the cost for the project.
“I covered my cost for the materials, and we donated about half of the hours,” he said, adding the project took about 60 man hours to complete.
From there, John Slauenwhite and Raymond Hill, co-owners of Kinetic Powder Coating, volunteered to powder coat the project for free.
Covas said he was happy to be part of the project.
“It sure was a fun project to be a part of – for Elijah and Tim to be able to be together at grad… it was a really special thing for them,” he said.
Elijah’s chair rolls right into the sidecar.
“It’s been such a community effort,” said Tim. “It really made for a special day.”
And not only from this community.
David McCann, a Vancouver philanthropist, made the initial contribution to the project one day on a ferry. A few years ago, McCann took on a project he named “111 Random Acts of Kindness,” as a tribute to a 111-year-old friend of his. Elijah was a benefactor of one of those 111 acts of kindness.
“We were waiting for the ferry and this stranger came by and offered Elijah an envelope, and in it was $800, then he gave him another $200 once we were on the ferry. So he gave Elijah $1,000. I told him we didn’t really need it but he just wasn’t going to take no for an answer. So I vowed to do something worthy with that money. That’s what sort of kicked the whole project off.”
Tim has no formal engineering training, but has always been somewhat of a handyman. He says he has Elijah to thank for that.
“No, no engineer here! Google is a great inventor,” he said, when asked of his talent. “Knowing Elijah’s limitations and what desire he has for adventure prompts me to do all I can.”
Tim said the grad ride was not a one-off. He’s always wanted Elijah to experience the joy of riding, and they plan on using the bike and sidecar often.
“It was definitely always a dream to have him ride, to get that experience. Now we will use it whenever we can.”
Tim also said he plans on offering the ride to any future graduates who find themselves in the same predicament as Elijah was, prior to the construction of the bike.
He said being able to have such a hand in Elijah’s high school graduation was a special feeling.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.