Tayler Pilon was just two years old when her grandfather, Les Bilmer, was left a quadriplegic after an accident in the fall of 2000 injured his spinal cord.
After the injury from a fall, and a year in hospital, her ‘poppy’ was brought home, where he was cared for, round the clock by Grandma Inez and the entire Bilmer family including young Tayler, the only tiny tot in the family at the time.
“I helped Grandma crush up his pills, and there were pockets in his wheelchair where there were always treats for me.”
“It was hard. It was 24-7 care,” says Tayler’s mother, Laury. “I am sure Dad lived as long as he did because of her. She would crawl up in bed with him and have her naps. There were always little treats under his pillow.”
Les passed away in May of 2004, and Tayler, now 13, has fond memories of the days she spent with him.
That’s why, when her Aunt Debbie learned of the Rick Hansen 25th anniversary Man in Motion Relay, Tayler was eager to apply to be part of it.
She was one of 8,000 Ontarians who applied and one of 2,000 who were successful.
This Saturday, October 29, Tayler with Grandma Inez and a large number of the Bilmer family will be in Smiths Falls where Tayler will run her 250m of the relay that started in Cape Spear, Newfoundland, on August 24, and will end May 22, 2012, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Twenty-five years ago, Rick Hansen wheeled through 34 countries in 26 months to complete his now-famous Man in Motion World Tour.
His mission was to inspire the world and realize the dream of raising millions of dollars for spinal cord injury research, making communities more accessible and inclusive and changing the way people looked at the potential of people with disabilities.
In March of 2010, the 25th anniversary campaign began with the official launch of the Rick Hansen Institute, founded in 2009. This independent institute is a Canada-wide collaboration dedicated to accelerating progress toward a cure and improving the quality of life for people who live with spinal cord injuries and related disabilities.
One of the key events of the 25th Anniversary of the Man in Motion World Tour is the current nine month Rick Hansen Relay which Tayler Pilon of Morrisburg is participating in, in memory of her grandfather, Les Bilmer, this Saturday, October 29 in Smiths Falls.
Tayler has set a goal of raising $1,000 for the Relay.
“We are trying to raise $1,000, and we are at $700 now,” she said last Wednesday. “We have donations from my aunts and uncles and the Legion, the Legion Ladies Auxiliary and friends.”
“We didn’t have to make a donation, but I wanted to.”
Although Tayler was not yet born when the original Man in Motion Tour took place, she has since studied and learned about the effort.
“I looked up information on Rick Hansen, because I really didn’t know much about him. He wheeled for 26 months and has raised $26 million.”
“He became like a national hero, just like Terry Fox did.”
Tayler says she is excited about running her leg of the relay and is proud to have the opportunity to carry the 25th anniversary commemorative medal with 16 other medal bearers in Smiths Falls.
The event is sponsored by Nike and McDonald’s, and Tayler will run in a uniform provided by Nike and will receive a replica of the commemorative medal.
For those who wish to travel to Smiths Falls, Tayler will be running at about 3:54 p.m. She is scheduled to attend a briefing at the Smith Falls Memorial Community Centre at 2:15 before being taken by bus to her segment of the relay.
Family and friends are advised to look for the relay segment with Tayler’s Medal Bearer # MB067-025.
For those who can’t make the trip, but would like to help Tayler reach her $1,000 donation goal, you can donate online. Information on the link can be obtained by emailing Laury and Tayler at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information you can call them at 613-543-3961.