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 young children.
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.”