Paralyzed Spouse Gets Help from Fire Fighter Family
April 12, 2013 – Jennifer Rumley, wife of Delta, BC Local 1763 member Mike
Bjarnason and daughter of retired Richmond, BC Local 1286 Bernie Rumley, was
suddenly paralyzed from the waist down after suffering from a cavernoma
hemorrhage, a form of spinal aneurysm. Absent a wheelchair assessable van, one
of Rumley’s biggest challenges was getting from point A to point B with her two
That’s when her extended fire fighter family stepped in to raise the $70,000
needed to purchase the van.
“The van was a big, but necessary expense,” says Local 1763 President Brad
Wilson. “Word traveled quickly and everyone wanted to help Jennifer just as they
would any family member.”
In June of 2012, Rumley began having pain in her lower back. Initial visits to
the doctor did not bring any answers, but the pain continued to get worse.
Finally, an MRI showed she had a bundle of blood vessels wrapped tightly around
her spinal column which had started to bleed. Doctors believe that the blood
vessels were a result of an undetected birth defect.
Once the hemorrhaging began, it was not long before Rumley began experiencing
numbness in her legs and, eventually, was paralyzed from the waist down.
Bjarnason’s wife was able to get a wheelchair and make some other adaptations to
her life, but it was incredibly difficult to care for their children --
three-year-old Cameron and five-year-old Kaitlyn -- without being able to drive
on her own. She needed a van adapted for a wheelchair, but the cost was $70,000.
Local 1763 fire fighters jumped into to assist. The first round of donations was
collected during the local’s retiree banquet. Other members organized a
fundraiser at a local pub. Additionally, locals across British Columbia and
Alberta passed the hat and donated more than $28,000 toward the van.
“We put the money raised into a trust fund for Jennifer,” says Wilson.
“Eventually, there was enough to buy the modified van.”
With the van, Rumley can now drive her children to school and to their
activities. She says that she feels like a mom again.