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Support grows for White Rock man injured in hockey accident

A fundraiser for Richard Morrison (inset) was held at Boston Pizza in South Surrey June 6. - Contributed
A fundraiser for Richard Morrison (inset) was held at Boston Pizza in South Surrey June 6.
— image credit: Contributed

Three words are going a long way for a White Rock man paralyzed two months ago in a hockey mishap: “It gets better.”

The encouragement for Richard Morrision comes from others who currently call the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre home, his wife, Sheila, said recently; including another White Rock man who has been at the Vancouver facility for about five months.

“He said it definitely gets better,” Sheila said, as she waited to visit with her husband.

Morrison, 47, moved to the centre from Vancouver General Hospital in mid-June to learn how to adapt to life as a quadriplegic.

The popular HandyDart driver and father of two suffered devastating injuries April 21, when he went headfirst into the boards during a drop-in hockey game in Burnaby. The impact compressed his spine and broke his neck in two places.

At GF Strong, a team of specialists is working with Morrison. The therapists – occupational, respiratory, speech and physio – are all focused on one key goal: to help him regain as much independence as he can.

While he is getting stronger – “they don’t let you be lazy here,” Sheila said – the road is tough at times.

“(Richard’s) had some discouraging days… realizing now that he’s getting more introduced to the real world again, there are little things he can’t do… just simple things.

“Everyone here that’s been here for four or five months says it definitely gets better. It’s hard in the beginning.

“I just tell Richard, just fast-forward to the future, and it’ll be better.”

In addition to regular visits with his children – during which, four-year-old Jessa stakes claim to her dad’s lap for wheelchair rides – and recent day passes that enabled a trip to the movies with his family and a visit Friday with his brother and sister, Morrison’s spirits are boosted by the determined efforts of his friends and colleagues to help ease the journey.

Even people who have never met Morrison have been eager to lend a hand.

“He’s very grateful for all the support we’ve been getting for all of us,” Sheila said. “I feel like we should be wearing thank-you T-shirts.”

Fundraising efforts kicked into gear almost immediately following the accident, and quickly surpassed expectations.

To date, about $140,000 has been raised, said Brent Silzer, a longtime friend of Morrison’s.

About $50,000 of the total was raised in one “kick-ass” night alone, at an event June 6 at the South Surrey Boston Pizza. Silzer estimated 300 people turned out to mingle and bid on live and silent auction items in support of the Morrisons.

“From start to finish, we had a really good night,” Silzer said, lauding the “incredible” generosity of BP owner Jeff Wheatley and his staff.

Other efforts have included a June 3 cut-a-thon at the Hair Art Academy that raised $1,700, a circuit class at Innovative Fitness that raised $2,500 (including a $1,250 matching donation), and donations from MVT Canadian Bus ($20,000) and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board ($1,500).

And the efforts are far from over. Silzer – noting funds raised so far “will go fast” in helping the family acquire such items as a lift-equipped vehicle and wheelchair-accessible accommodation – said a date has been set and planning is underway for an outdoor dance. More details of the Sept. 8 event will be shared as they are finalized.

Regular updates are posted at www.richardmorrisonfund.org, where those interested can also view photos and donate to the cause.

Sheila and Silzer encouraged those who know Morrison to visit him at GF Strong, 4255 Laurel St. He’s expected to be there for at least the next three months. Evenings and weekends are best.

“He wants visitors,” Sheila said.

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