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Canadian Cancer Society launches Wheels of Hope in the Kootenays; searching for volunteers

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS)  is searching for volunteers throughout the Kootenays to help drive local cancer patients to and from their treatment appointments through its Wheels of Hope Program.

The program is new to the Kootenay region and is being introduced in the East, West, and Central Kootenay areas.

Volunteers are urgently needed in both urban and rural communities. Those who sign up drive local cancer patients to and from their cancer treatment appointments, usually located in Nelson, Trail, or Cranbrook.

Mark Kahan, the recruitment coordinator with Wheels of Hope said they’re hoping to recruit at least 15 volunteers in the region who are available during the day Monday to Friday, adding that transportation is a significant barrier local cancer patients are facing when trying to access life-saving medical treatment.

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“Some people may have to go for up to six weeks at a time, Monday to Friday for daily radiation, and we’ve found that if someone can’t find a ride, they don’t go. It breaks my heart to hear that the only reason someone wouldn’t go to their life-saving treatment is because they can’t find a ride. So that’s where the Wheels of Hope program comes in.”

CCS will run criminal record and background checks on each volunteer who signs up, as well as a driving record check. Those who choose to volunteer with their own vehicle will receive mileage reimbursement at 45 cents per litre or a tax receipt for those who wish to donate the cost of their mileage to the program.

Volunteers have the option of using their own vehicle or utilizing the Wheels of Hope fleet vehicle located in Castlegar. Personal vehicles need to be safe, and 100 per cent smoke and scent-free.

Kahan emphasized that volunteers from smaller rural communities throughout the Kootenays are an asset, adding that the role of a volunteer expands beyond transportation and includes providing emotional support to those community members navigating their cancer diagnosis.

“We need volunteers from all over the little communities in the Kootenays. Our goal is to make sure that anyone who needs a ride to their treatment gets one, but we’re only able to do that with the kindness and support of volunteer drivers,” stated Kahan.

“We get a lot of feedback from our volunteers who say they get more out of the service than the people they’re transporting because they just love meeting people. It’s really such a great experience for not just the client, but it’s also just a great experience for the volunteer driver as well.”

Interested individuals can sign up online at to submit an application, or call 1-888-939-3333 for more information.

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