Lance is one motivating young man. At 11 years old, he's busy as all get-out. He fishes, plays with friends, enjoys racing and basketball. He loved games of any kind and is a recognized chess player. He skis as often as he can.

Lance does all this with the help of a powered wheelchair, a guide dog and an attitude that's unbeatable. He also has a specially-adapted bike as well as an indoor mobility chair... both allow him to visit and play with friends.

Having a disability hasn't held Lance back; he's got a family who focuses on solutions rather than problems. And for Lance, Easter Seals Society in Barrie is a huge solution. It's Easter Seals that has helped to fund much of the expensive equipment that propels Lance forward. And according to Charlene Myke, district manager for Easter Seals for Simcoe County and Muskoka, many of the mobility devices used by Lance are expensive, internationally produced, and very difficult for an individual to buy.

What a lot of people don't realize is that Easter Seals raises its own funds and is not government supported. The what a firecracker we have at the helm locally. Charlene hails from Hamilton and brings with her a long background in fundraising. When she became district manager for this region, she closed the office, generating a huge rent savings, and moved the office to her home.

Now, with a gang of volunteers, she's launching a number of activities to raise money towards the $250,000 annual budget for this region.

As district manager, she wants to increase money, and increase awareness. She's hosting fundraising events, partnering up with organizations such as Homelife Realty to reach the community with promotional efforts. She speaks regularly to service clubs and schools and also reaches out to support the ventures of other charities.

Easter Seals gives service to any child with a physical disability who's under age 18. Equipment, support for families, training, ramps, lifts, and looking for helpful grants are all part of her service.

"Any tool that a child needs is one we can fund," she says.

As well, Easter Seals has special summer camps for Easter Seals kids and they attend a one-week session at London, Niagara Falls or Ottawa.

"We have 448 kids in Simcoe County who fit into our service category," says Charlene. Ane this doesn't include those in Muskoka and Parry Sound, districts also managed by Charlene.

"When we raise money in Barrie, it stays right here. All funding is coded, so funds raised in Wasaga Beach stay there, in Collingwood stay there, etc."

Barrie's portion of the budget for this year is $132,000.Usually families contact Charlene to put in their requests about a year ahead. "If I have five kids starting school next year (September 2006) then their walkers and braces will move to wheelchairs and ramps... much more expensive."

Participants in Easter Seals events can take heart knowing how important their contribution is to the overall picture. Whether it¹s Snowarama in Collingwood, or Penny Power across all the schools, or Power Plays Corporate Ball Hockey tournament, it's all for the good of Easter Seals kids.

The closest event in time and location is happening in Barrie next Thursday. Barrie FireFighters are partnering with Easter Seals to put on one "hot" show. Complete with choreography, fashion, commentary and movement, Hot Night in the City features most of Barrie's Fire Fighters AND their 2006 calendar. Imagine this! Over 1000 women in a yet-secret venue, laughing at scenes and skits from 70's TV shows, complete with music and dance.

It's a win-win-win, for sure. The Fire Fighters launch their calendar (and autograph it for you) and raise money for Camp Bucko; 40 different companies across Barrie get to give samples to potential customers, and those attending get to laugh, sing, frollick and enjoy... all for $35.

This is the official launch of the calendar and Charlene is excited about the energy generated by Hot Night in the City. In fact, she says the show is almost sold out.

Hard on the heels of Hot Night is the Celebrity Sports Dinner, October 13 at the Holiday Inn. You can buy a table through Century 21 Real Estate and you can meet Wendel Clark, Maple Leafs Captain, as well as stars from women's hockey, horse racing, football, and para Olympic contenders.

Right after that, Charlene's up to Gravenhurst for her annual bonspiel, another valuable fundraiser for the Muskoka coffers.

On and on... Charlene started her fundraising career on World Cycling followed by Relay for Life and the Festival on Top of Jackson's Square. Her creative energy, and ability to tap into skilled volunteers means we all benefit. She is always conjuring up potential fundraising events.

Charlene went back to school as an adult to get her fundraising training, but she really learned it in the trenches as a volunteer at many special events. She received the ultimate tribute from her Hamilton/Dundas community as she received the Queen's Jubilee award for her contribution to community life.

Charlene will likely be the woman with the most energy and the one having the most fun next Thursday. And it's her voice on the end of the line if you call to order tickets (689-9756) or you can pick them up at Mailboxes Etc at Cedar Pt Plaza.

Thanks, Charlene.

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