MS patient needs funds

Robert Aguilar’s family and friends are pulling together to send him to California for a stem cell transplant.

For one special customer, Canada Water Depot is going the extra mile.

Suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), Robert Aguilar has lost the function of his body over the years, gradually taking him from needing crutches to being bedridden.

Manager of Canada Water Depot Bobbi McCord and her mother Elaine Allen, owner of the store, planned to donate their various collected items from over the years to the Salvation Army, but heard Aguilar had the chance to go to California for a stem cell transplant.

They both decided to have a garage sale out of their store to help Aguilar with the funds needed to have the treatment done, which is estimated to be more than $15,000 U.S..

“At first we were going to donate 50 per cent, but then we were like, ‘No, 100 per cent needs to go to Robert,’” said McCord.

The garage sale started July 20, and will go until Friday, when the Canada Water Depot will be donating 50 per cent of the day’s water sales.

“This will end off our garage sale with a bang,” said McCord.

Allen and McCord remember when Aguilar started using an electric scooter and would still come to purchase his water every week.

“We would strap the jug on his scooter and he’d just motor away,” said McCord.

Aguilar’s MS continued to take control of his body, which resulted in him needing an electric wheelchair, but he soon lost the ability to control it properly.

Now, he has the function of one arm that he uses to drink and eat.

“His spirits are still amazing,” said McCord.

Customers have been donating cash, some while buying from the garage sale and others just to give money, and some people have donated their own products to the cause.

Sally Steeves donated 15 hand-crocheted butterflies to sell, and the store was also given two tickets to the Okanagan Military Tattoo, which Allen and McCord plan to sell.

If Aguilar makes it to California, his journey will start with the transplant but will continue once he’s back home in Vernon with physio therapy five days per week.

“All of us who love Robert would be so very grateful to anyone who could help provide anything towards this for him,” said Corina Varner, a close friend.

MS is an autoimmune disease of the brain and spinal cord where myelin, the protective covering of nerves, gets attacked and becomes inflamed.

Some researchers believe that stem cell therapy can effectively repair damaged myelin, preventing the progression of the disease and minimizing its effect on patients’ quality of life.

On week days, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., people can stop by the store and donate or go to the GoFundMe page Aguilar’s close friend Jim Cliffe and Marie set up.

His friends and family hope to get the funds to increase his quality of life and send him off to California.

“It would be a gift from God,” said Aguilar.

bretany.tourout@vernonmorningstar.com