IN March 2013, Sorell local Jim Eastley suffered a severe stroke that left him paralysed down the right side of his body.
Severely limited in mobility, Mr Eastley spent his days living in his lounge chair at home, accompanied by his wife and full-time carer Susan Eastley, who suffered significant health issues of her own.
With severe arthritis in her wrists and shoulders, Mrs Eastley often found it difficult to cater to the numerous aspects of Mr Eastley’s care.
In July this year, hope came in the form of a prescription for a specialised wheelchair that would enable Mr Eastley to access the streets of Sorell, visit the shops and the doctors, and even accompany his daughter on her daily dog walks.
The only catch was that it would come at a cost of approximately $14,000 – a price that was simply too steep for the Eastleys to afford.
Mrs Eastley said they were given the option of government funding in the amount of $6,000 but that it would only receive approval if the funding became available.
“We were advised that the wait for this funding could take years and even then, we would need to make up the difference in cost,” she said.
Seeing a genuine need, Aidacare – the company providing the wheelchair – offered Mr Eastley its demo model at half the price of what a new chair would cost.
“We could only receive the government funding for a new chair, but for about the same out-of-pocket expense we could have the demo model – and much sooner,” Mrs Eastley said.
“However, even with this generous offer we still needed to find funds.”
Mr and Mrs Eastley had previously saved money for the purchase of a second-hand wheelchair vehicle, biding their time for when one would become available in their price range.
Mrs Eastley said they soon recognised that using the money for the demo wheelchair was “far more important.”
“Our family contacted a couple of charities on our behalf and we were delighted when the Lions Club of Sorell returned the call,” Mrs Eastley said.
“They were amazing, they kept in touch throughout their internal processes and when they phoned to say they could help we were ever so grateful.”
The Lions Club of Sorell generously donated $1,000, allowing Mr Eastley to proceed with the purchase of his new specialised wheelchair.
On 21 August, Aidacare delivered the demo chair – just one day before Mr Eastley’s birthday.
“We decided to surprise Jim with a trip to the Salmon Ponds at New Norfolk,” Mrs Eastley said.
“We had a barbecue and a fish in the river from the disabled platforms, as Jim had previously been an active fisherman.
“This was the first time he had been fishing since his stoke 18-months-ago and he was the happiest he had been in a long time.
“He was even able to catch his biggest trout ever.”
Mrs Eastley said they would like to thank the Lions Club of Sorell “from the bottom of their hearts”.
“Without their help we could never have afforded the new chair,” she said.