In recent years, Don Reed became a regular user of the Rockyview Handibus to travel to numerous medical appointments in Calgary.
The service proved extremely helpful and it was something Don's wife Margaret dearly remembered upon his passing. She decided to purchase the service a bus that bears the words, "In Loving Memory of Don Reed."
This morning, Paul Siller, executive director and general manager of the Rockyview Handibus Society, drove the brand new bus to Cochrane to show Margaret Reed, her daughter Kelly and granddaughter Chelsea.
The Reeds have made Cochrane their home for 23 years and Don was ill for several years leading up to his death in June 2017. He had to visit seven doctors in Calgary quite regularly.
"Often In one week he'd have three or four appointments and sometimes it was hard for me to take him," says Margaret, his wife of 55 years. "Sometimes they were in places I didn't feel comfortable driving."
"It just made a world of difference in our lives. They were always there for us. So I wanted to do this for Don and for the handibus. I want the handibus to be there for everybody that needs it the way we did.
"I don't know what Cochrane would do without them."
Margaret also appreciates the help of the Cochrane Rotary Club, of which Don was a longtime member, and in particular appreciated the assistance of Glen Gryzko for helping put the pieces together. The service club's logo appears on the opposite side of the bus in recognition of their help.
"We're definitely very thrilled," says Siller. "It's not every day someone gives you a phone call and says 'I'd like to donate a bus'."
The Rockview Handibus service has a fleet of 20 vehicles serving the area and Cochranites account for about 25 per cent of their trips. In 2018, they made 5,000 trips for Cochrane residents.
"We're growing 18 per cent this year and we've had to hang on to vehicles longer than we would like to. Getting something fresh and new is really exciting. It helps us get more people to where they need to go."
The bus was manufactured by StarTran on an E-350 Ford Chassis. It has a flexible layout so to accommodate the different needs of passengers. It even has integrated booster seats for young passengers, a higher grade lift, more room for parcels, LED lighting and air conditioning, ideal for longer trips.
"It helps us do more and take more people per hour because of the additional space."
The society continues to fundraise for two more buses.
"We're still working on it," says Siller. "It takes many bricks to build a bus."