When Ida Maynard was a young woman she vividly remembers listening to radio descriptions of the Tournament of Roses Parade. She was "tied" to the radio in 1927 for the first ever transcontinental radio broadcast of a sporting event--the Rose Bowl football game. She was caught up in the imagination of the descriptions of flowers, of colours, of float after float. And more than anything, she wanted to be in Pasadena to watch this spectacle for herself.

She has wanted this since she was a young girl, a few years after the parade first rolled down the streets of Pasadena, culminating in football challenge that captured the imaginations of North Americans.

For Ida, this was the beginning of a new year. A time of festive celebration and sport.

"I'm going to go to the Tournament of Roses Parade, one year," she promised herself.

And yesterday, Saturday December 30, 2000, Ida boarded a jet at Pearson International Airport for a direct flight that would be step one to fulfilling her dream.

And this is no small feat for an 83-pound, 92 year old polio victim who's spent her life on crutches and in wheelchairs. If anyone can take the "dis" out of disability, it's Ida Maynard.

A resident of Heritage Place (the independent living apartments attached to the IOOF home in Allandale), Ida and her brother were the first to move in when the facility opened eight years ago. A lifelong member of the Rebekah Lodge (IOOF home is operated and funded by the Oddfellows and Rebekahs), Ida wanted to live her senior years in a place that felt like home.

But... let's go back. When she was 3 and a child in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, polio struck and Ida spent much of her youth in hospitals, in leg casts, learning how to manipulate crutches and later a wheelchair. All this long before wheelchair ramps and building accessibility became reality. She finished high school and attended McGill and Dalhousie universities, becoming a chartered accountant and joining a New Glasgow firm as a new graduate. Ida remembers how helpful her university friends were when she wanted to attend a school football game.

She worked with a CA firm for five years, then with a lumber company for 9 years. In 1956 she moved to Ontario and worked for Penny and Casson, who built and serviced service stations. She was there until 1976 when she retired at age 68. During this time she learned how to drive a standard automobile, using rudimentary hand controls that were developed for her. It's easy to see how Ida's spark of determination was fuelled by her life's experiences. She went with a friend to Ireland, Scotland and England during her working years, fuelling even more her passionate desire to view the Parade and Tournament of Roses.

Now, when you're 92 and wheelchair bound and you're joining a bus tour that's taking you for three days in Pasadena and three days in Las Vegas, there's some advance preparation required. First was the tour bus. There are four steps up the bus and a big lift from the street to the first step, and Ida's wheelchair won't fit in the bus, though it will store underneath in the luggage compartment. How to get her onto the bus was her main challenge.

"For the Rose Bowl they told me I shouldn't go. It seemed that each problem was a little bigger. I called everybody I could think of to help me solve the problem of actually getting onto the bus, and then Kathy Perryman (a security worker at Heritage Place) suggested maybe a baby stroller would work. She brought one over, but it was too tight a fit for my body. Somebody told me you can get anything you want at Walmart. I called them and asked if they have any strollers for children. I told them I weigh 83 pounds and they said they had one for up to 90 pounds. It'll do to get me on and off the bus."

Ida was on her way, with that problem solved. And Heritage Place worker Kathy Perryman is going along with her to ensure the trip is as perfect as Ida has always dreamed.

Next, Ida investigated whether she'd be able to see the parade up close. It turns out the Rebekah Lodge has a float in the parade and with Ida being a 52 year member, connections were made for a Rebekah lodge member in Pasadena to give Ida a grand tour of the entire Rose Bowl Parade floats, flowers, and logistical centre on the day after the parade.

She hopes to take in part of the football game as well.

So, as you're feasting on New Year's Day events, enjoying the beginning of yet another 365 days, highlighting your goals for 2001, please take a moment to bask in Ida Maynard's glory.

What an inspiration for us all!

Thanks, Ida.

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