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Canada's Other Flag Bearer

VANCOUVER, Feb. 24 - Thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteers, Vancouver's Mayor Sam Sullivan will carry the flag from the Turin stadium during the Winter Olympics closing ceremonies this Sunday. Sullivan is a quadriplegic as a result of a skiing accident, and needs a unique assistive device in order to hold the flag in his wheelchair.

"It's not as though I could just go to the store and buy a big flag carrier. The flag itself is six square metres and is attached to a five metre-long pole. If there's wind, I could be blown right off the stage," says Sullivan. "I needed help, and knew that the project would be a natural for the Tetra Society."

Frustrated by the inability to do things that others take for granted, Sullivan and a small group of people with disabilities founded the Tetra Society in 1987, with the aim of recruiting skilled volunteer engineers and technicians to create custom assistive devices.

Jay Drew, the Tetra volunteer who designed Sullivan's flag holder, says that although the project has a high profile, it's typical of the work done by Tetra volunteers. "It's all about building something to enhance independence," says Drew. "Sam needed to carry the flag, so we designed a device that lets him do it safely."
 

 
Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan carries the flag in a Tetra-designed holder during the Winter Olympics closing ceremony. Photo: Gerry Kahrmann/The Province
People all over North America have been helped by Tetra volunteers:
•  A Halifax stroke victim plays his guitar again after it was fitted with a strumming device,
•  An artist in Toronto mouth-paints using a custom-designed easel,
•  Children in Red Deer sleep soundly in specially-constructed beds,
•  A senior's group in Columbus, Ohio uses a unique set of folding steps to board a van for outings.

In a real demonstration of how assistive devices help people with disabilities to achieve independence, Canada's first quadriplegic mayor will carry the flag on Sunday in Turin; and all that was needed to make it happen was a bit of pipe and the dedication of a talented team of volunteers.

About The Tetra Society of North America

The Tetra Society of North America is a non-profit charitable organization whose volunteers design and fabricate unique assistive devices for people with disabilities. Tetra chapters and individual volunteers are found across Canada and the U.S. - www.tetrasociety.org

For further information: Pat Tweedie, Tetra Program Coordinator, ptweedie@tetrasociety.org or Duane Geddes, Executive Director, dgeddes@disabilityfoundation.org

 

 

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