No one was more surprised than Sharon Jaeger to be chosen as the Mary of the 25th annual Two Miles For Mary radiothon and breakfast fundraiser.
”I thought they would probably pick some nice sweet old lady with white hair,” Jaeger said, “Although my kids are telling me my hair is starting to get white.”
© Herald photo by KJ Dakin
Sharon Jaeger is this year’s Mary for the Two Miles For Mary radiothon and breakfast fundrasier. She is representing the 257 seniors who made use of the Prince Albert Senior's Transportation Program last year and the 6,350 rides provided. This year the organization is celebrating its 25th year of the radiothon that augments the organizations annual budget, so they can keep rates to $4 a ride for the city's seniors.
Two miles represent the typical distance a senior needs to travel to go shopping, banking to attend medical appointments and participate in the social activities of a full life. Some travel to visit partners or friends in assisted living homes.
The event is put on by the Seniors Transportation Program and CKBI Radio. It raises funds to reduce the cost of transporting seniors over 60 years of age to supporting their independent living.
Merv Bender, executive director with the Community Services Centre, said the event raises $30,000 to $35,000 annually.
In 2011, more than 6,000 rides were provided, Bender said.
“We had a total 257 different seniors use the service. And we gave 6,350 rides.”
Over the last couple of years, use of the service has increased marginally, Bender said.
It started when the need became apparent, that some seniors, who could live independently, couldn’t always drive themselves.
“The senior’s transportation service actually goes back to, I think, 1976, as a service in the community of Prince Albert. So it’s been around a long, long time.”
“We need to be able to connect seniors living independently to services that they need in the community,” Bender said.
“Obviously transportation becomes a fairly critical part of that.”
To keep costs down for after the first few years of the program and lack of government funding, the radiothon was founded.
“We didn’t want to charge really high rates, so we did some fundraising, and Two Miles for Mary started.”
“We currently charge $4 for a trip, so if you’re going to, say, the beauty salon, or what ever, and we took you there and back, it would be $8.”
“We currently charge $4 for a trip, so if you’re going to, say, the beauty salon, or what ever, and we took you there and back, it would be $8.” Merv Bender
The organization runs one vehicle five days a week, 8:30 a.m. until noon and from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m, as well as another vehicle on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“Transportation is important for everyone, and if you’ve ever known someone that has lost their ability to get out and about, either due to a physical impairment … or, you know, due to a temporary accident, then you certainly appreciate how key it is to have access to transportation to get where you want to go.”
Jaeger has been using the service for nearly a year and says she could have made use of t before then.
“I’m really kicking myself because I’d heard about it, you know, but I didn’t give it much thought,” Jaeger said.
“When my husband started getting sick and he couldn’t drive, well we were taking taxis to his appointments, if the girls couldn’t get away from their jobs.”
“I was sitting here one day and I’m thinking well this is absolutely stupid, and I’d heard about it, so I phoned and inquired, and I thought well that’s just the greatest thing for me.”
Jaeger said it has been of great use to her, allowing her to plan without depending on her daughter for rides around town.
“I imagine there’s quite a lot of other seniors that find it very handy,” Jaeger said. “So I hope they get a lot of money this year to keep them going.”
Donations may be made to the Seniors Transportation Program by calling 763-MARY(6279) on Friday.
People are also invited to attend the radiothon and breakfast at the Heritage Centre at 12th Street West, from 7 to 9 a.m.