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‘I just started crying’: Sicamous Legion helps mom with fundraising for autistic son

Chelsea Bowman grateful for support from legion and community
Chelsea Bowman and son Odin. (Contributed)

Chelsea Bowman is grateful to the Sicamous Legion and everyone who helped with a recent fundraising effort for her six-year-old son Odin.

Bowman describes her son as “severely autistic.”

“He doesn’t talk,” said Bowman. “He’s severely autistic, but he’s the happiest little guy ever.”

On April 12, Bowman launched a Gofundme campaign to raise money for a bed designed to provide a safe environment for children with autism. She set out to raise $3,897 – the quote she received for the cost of the bed.

“At the moment he’s been in a make shift crib for the last 2 years because he outgrew a regular crib…,” reads Bowman’s Gofundme page.

Bowman said the bed had been recommended by Odin’s behaviour therapist.

Despite this, she was unable to get any support from the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development, which oversees autism funding for children.

Bowman noted autism funding from the province is cut from $21,000 to $6,000 when a child turns six.

“Why is it every child who has autism gets their funding cut off at six?” she asked.

“It’s not like they’re magically better at six. Yeah, they go to school but the schools don’t have what the kids need because of all these cutbacks and stuff, and the only one who is suffering is the kids with the disabilities.

“I think each kid is individual and each kid has different needs and funding should be allocated to the kids that need this or that or the other thing.”

Bowman was encouraged by Odin’s behaviour therapist to start the Gofundme and also to contact the local Legion.

Bowman said the Sicamous branch had already been helping her out, giving her part-time work and letting them use the upstairs area for Odin’s therapy sessions free of charge.

Read more: B.C.’s new autism funding model a disappointment, says Autism BC

Read more: Okanagan Humane Society launches biggest fundraiser of the year

“One of the Legion members… saw the Gofundme page, they said why don’t you talk to the Legion – because that’s what they do, they help people in situations like this,” said Bowman, who stressed she doesn’t like asking people for money.

“I kind of felt weird. I called Bill (Moore), he’s the president, and I said I’m trying to get this bed for my son Odin.

“It’s like an obscene amount of money but honestly, it’s the cheapest bed I could find. I said I’ve started a Gofundme and I’m saving, I’ll come up with as much as I can. Is it at all possible you guys can pitch in?”

Two days later, Bowman heard back from the Legion, where a cheque for $4,000 was waiting for her. Though she’d already raised $1,500 through the Gofundme page, Bowman said she hadn’t included shipping in the cost of the bed, or the exchange from U.S. to Canadian funds.

“I’m like whoa, I just started crying. I was bawling my eyes out. I didn’t even know what to say…,” said Bowman. “With the Gofundme and the Legion and what I’ve saved, I think I have it covered. I might have to come up with a few more bucks.”

The Sicamous Legion’s vice-president Marty Goble said the branch likes to do as much as it can for the people in the community, and was happy to help Bowman and Odin. “She needed some help from us and we were quite willing to give it to her,” said Bowman.
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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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