Thousands of participants wearing red or white t-shirts gather on the Legislature lawns in Victoria to create a living Canada flag for 2010 Canada Day festivities. (Ken Kelly/DVBA handout)

Vernon society raises funds through living flag

The North Okanagan Community Life Society hosts Vernon’s first living flag July 1 at Graham Park

Crystal Leese became enamoured with the concept of living flags when she and her daughter were first involved with one in Winnipeg.

So when Leese, who now lives in Vernon and works with the North Okanagan Community Life Society (NOCLS), heard Dawson Buburuz’ story, she knew the best way to help.

In an effort to raise money to make 19-year-old Buburuz’ washroom wheelchair accessible, NOCLS is hosting Vernon’s first Canada Day Living Flag fundraiser at Graham Park July 1.

“The inspiration was Dawson and just needing an accessible washroom,” Leese said.

Buburuz, who is graduating from Grade 12 this year, lives with severe cerebral palsy and several medical conditions. His family applied for a grant to renovate the bathroom but was denied, Leese said, on account of their rent being marginally higher than the qualifying amount.

“I felt we needed to do something now,” Leese said. “The washroom is a big space, but we wanted to put in a walk-in shower.”

Leese said Buburuz is currently unable to shower in his own home and being able to do so would improve his quality of life. The estimated renovation cost ranges from $7,000 to $10,000.

With roots in Victoria in 2006, a living flag is where a group of people gather dressed in red and form a maple leaf. A photographer then takes a photo of the living flag from a tall building or, in this case, a plane.

The Vernon Flying Club volunteered to take the photographer into the air for the event, which in turn cut down expenses for NOCLS meaning more of the proceeds go towards Buburuz.

Leese hopes that 500 people will come out to make the human maple leaf. Red t-shirts will be provided to the first 500. A minimum $10 donation is required to participate. Children wearing red will get in the photo for free. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the photo will be taken at 10:30 a.m.

For more information, contact NOCLS at 250-545-5153.

Related: Vernon kids get a lift from NOCLS


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