After a generous gift from a Saskatoon woman, Marlene Bird is ready to roll.
“Now I can walk,” she said, “pretend I have my legs.”
It was Tuesday in front of the Prince Albert Indian Métis Friendship Centre. Bird, best known as the victim of a brutal 2014 attack that took both her legs, was trying out a gently used electric scooter.
It came from a woman who knows just a little bit about her recent struggles. In July, Bird reported the theft of her electric scooter after a break-in at her home in Timber Bay. Six weeks ago, Tricia Mills lost her own scooter to theft – and didn’t know how she’d afford to replace it.
She said people all over Saskatoon followed her story in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, and pitched in to find her not one, but two, electric scooters.
“I had one left over, and when I heard Marlene got hers stolen, the first thing on my mind was: this should go to Marlene,” she said.
RCMP members helped transport the device up to Prince Albert, and stood by as Mills instructed Bird on how to use the controls.
“If you want to go a little faster you flick this up,” she said.
“No, I don’t want to speed,” said Bird, feigning fear of the smiling officers.
Mills seemed overcome with emotion as she watched Bird softly accelerate along the sidewalk.
“When I heard that you lost your (scooter), I was devastated for you,” she said. “You’ve got mobility; you can go anywhere you want now. I’m feeling like I’m going to cry.”
Bird said the new machine will help her get to the lake, one of her favourite places to sit and reminisce about her family.
“With this one I can go to the lake and think about my grandma, my mom, fishing,” she said. “That’s all I want to think about, that brings me up, you know, my heart, my spirit.”
She said the new scooter is far more than she was hoping for.
“I expected a really little tiny one, but this is a four-by-four,” she said, adding that now she’ll be able to get around without the help of her partner, Patrick Lavallee.
“He doesn’t have to push me and get tired,” she said.
In fact, Bird might soon have a second scooter she can use to travel around Prince Albert. Spinal Cord Injury Saskatchewan has announced that they will be donating another electric scooter to Bird, with the ceremony set for 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Mills said the whole experience – a generous donation passing from one woman to the next – is a testament to the goodness of Saskatchewan.
“I am over the moon,” she said. “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster ever since I lost my wheelchair. But I’ve noticed what good and generous people we have in Saskatchewan.
“I was overwhelmed with the generosity of people. It was just fantastic.”