Muscular dystrophy sufferer getting a helping hand

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Pennie Randell is still hopeful fundraising efforts to purchase a wheelchair accessible van will be successful.

CORNER BROOK — The saying is that every penny counts.

But Bess McWhirter is worried that those pennies are not coming in fast enough.

McWhirter, who lives in Englee, is trying to help Corner Brook resident Pennie Randell raise enough money to purchase a wheelchair accessible van.

Randell, who has muscular dystrophy, is originally from Bide Arm on the Northern Peninsula, but she and McWhirter have never met. She said some members of her family know Randell and her family, but McWhirter has only been back in the province for a couple of years after spending 40 years away.

She and Randell have spoken by phone and McWhirter is a regular poster to the Let’s Get a Van for Pennie Facebook site.

“I hurt for everybody. I hurt when people hurt,” she said of her desire to help.

“I just blame it on empathy.

“I always want to be helping somebody.”

Over the last year or so she’s put $20 or $30 at a time into an account set up for donations on several occasions.

Recently, she said, it just didn’t seem like the account was growing much.

So, McWhirter and her sister, Ada Weir, decided to hold a bake sale.

The bake sale was held on June 17, and, along with cash donations, the sisters raised $3,200.

The cash donations are still coming in and McWhirter said she has her family in the province and on the mainland collecting.

With nearly $15,000 now raised, McWhirter is concerned that the fundraising has “everybody exhausted.”

She said the people that know Randell have all given many times over and she’s worried they won’t be able to offer more help.

“How many times can you go back and say we’re having another fundraiser for Pennie.”

That leaves her wondering “where do we go from here?

“How do you get a different group of people because the people that she knows and the people that we know have been exhausted.

“Like now that we’ve raised $15,000 is there some organization that can help her out or match the funds.”

Randell doesn’t qualify as a registered charity and can’t offer donors receipts, and McWhirter said there must be some way around this so that Randell could register with some other organization that could offer receipts. Then maybe a dealership or other business might come on board.

For more information on the fundraising effort, of to offer any ideas of how to help, contact Pennie Randell at 639-1947 or by email at

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Englee, Northern Peninsula

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Recent comments

  • labrador rose
    July 03, 2011 - 21:12

    maybe someone should give the kinsmen and kinettes a call and see what they can do ..

    • Bess
      July 10, 2011 - 12:38

      @ Labrador rose .... There are no kinsman or kinettes in the area where I live.. as a matter of fact there are no organizations here.. @ Betty (below this) .. there is a bank account set up and it was on the last Western Star article back a few months ago.. it is also on the fundraising site on FACEBOOK that has been set up called "Let's get a Van for Pennie"

  • Pennie
    June 30, 2011 - 14:37

    Thank you to Bess McWhirter, Diane Crocker and The Western Star for keeping this alive!! I appreciate everyones kindness and generosity and we will eventually get the Van!

    • Bess
      July 10, 2011 - 12:44

      Thanks Pennie, it's the least I could do..I want so bad to keep ths alive because I know that there MUST be somone out there who has a compassionate spot in their heart and will call and make up the difference that is needed to get you that's TIME!!! .. this fundraising has been ongoing for over 2 years now (correct me if I am wrong) and it's time you were able to get out of the house and do everyday things like regular people take for granted..

  • Betty
    June 30, 2011 - 09:31

    maybe set up a bank account, put the number in the paper with your write up and people from other provinces can donate.