Beaulieu bus fundraiser to help two young brothers

'The chairs are pretty decent in the snow," says Steve Beaulieu, as he manually lifts and unfolds a jerry-rigged wheelchair ramp from the side of his family's minivan.

‘The chairs are pretty decent in the snow,” says Steve Beaulieu, as he manually lifts and unfolds a jerry-rigged wheelchair ramp from the side of his family’s minivan.

But even “decent” means needing a slight push to get traction on ice-encrusted curbs.

As Beaulieu continues to fiddle with the van, his two youngest boys zip around behind him in their power wheelchairs.

Both Ross, 15, and Finn, 12, have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

It’s the most severe kind of muscular dystrophy, says their father.

It is usually only found in boys – one in every 3,600 to be precise.

The disorder is caused by a defective gene, which is supposed to bring protein to the muscle. Some boys show symptoms in infancy but it’s usually around age six that the muscle degeneration becomes obvious.

“When they were younger, they walked and ran like regular children,” says Steve. “But it’s progressive.”

As they get older, both Ross and Finn will only become weaker and weaker.

Finn, the craftsmen and baker of the family, can still stand and walk short distances, says his father. But six months ago, the family decided to add a second power wheelchair to its list of extraordinary expenses, replacing the manual chair Finn had been using.

Ross, the family’s computer whiz who is at the top of his class at Vanier Catholic Secondary School, has been using his own power wheelchair for much longer.

“You have to take a run at it,” Steve tells Ross as his wheelchair’s wheels spin at the bottom of the van’s ramp.

Ross backs up and tries again. His father helps push him up the slope.

Finn then nearly runs his dad off the ramp as he follows Ross into the van. The inside now looks particularly small with two teenage boys and their two automatic wheelchairs.

Steve squeezes himself in and around their chairs.

He continues to talk as he cranks ratchet straps through chair wheels, attaching them to the floor.

“It’s really not safe,” he says.

There are no proper restraints to keep the chairs secure and the van hasn’t been properly converted, he says.

All he did was pull everything out of the back – chairs, benches and carpet – exposing the electrical work tucked into the van’s floor.

Family friend Aisha Montgomery also worries about the van’s safety.

“If they got pulled over by a cop, they’d get a ticket,” she says. “Plus it’s labour intensive.”

Montgomery is helping organize a fundraiser, which will raise money to help the Beaulieu family buy a new, properly-equipped van.

Not only do safety concerns keep family trips close to home, but the two boys and their chairs are such a tight fit the family can’t travel all together. Steve and his wife, Michelle, have a third son who is older than Ross and Finn. That means even trips to the grocery store leave someone at the family’s Fox Haven home or require a convoy.

Most families who need wheelchair-accessible transportation buy a regular vehicle and pay as much as $70,000 to have it converted.

But now an American company is making a van that looks like an SUV and is equipped with a ramp, wide-hinge door, non-slip floors and moveable chairs. Wheelchairs and scooters can sit in the back or front passenger spaces. The MV-1 only costs $54,000.

“There’s a dealership in Prince George,” says Steve.

The idea to hold a fundraiser was raised after he first saw the vehicle and started trying to figure out how he was going to pay for one.

Both Steve and his wife have full-time jobs but a lot of their income is gobbled up with extra expenses such as a live-in nanny and five to six trips to Vancouver every year to see specialists.

Even finding an accessible house was impossible in Whitehorse, leaving the family with no other option than to build their own.

When the weather drops down, the boys are pretty much restricted to the house, says Steve. Trips to Canadian Tire have to suffice for walks.

“We’re constantly advocating for things like the Millennium Trail, which is supposed to be accessible, to be cleared all year,” he says. “The (Canada Games) Centre is outstanding. We could not live in Whitehorse without that facility, even though there are some tweaks (needed) to make it more accessible.”

The Beaulieus are not unfamiliar with fundraising, but it’s never before been for their own family.

Every year, they help to raise thousands for muscular dystrophy research, says Steve.

Last year his wife Michelle, a marathon runner, led a Whitehorse contingent of about 35 people to raise $50,000 in the internationally organized Run for Our Sons.

“But this event, specifically, is Yukoners letting these guys know that we love and appreciate them,” says Montgomery. “Steve and Michelle and the boys are the kind of family that really would give you the shirt of their back. They’re the most generous community members you could ever imagine. It just feels so good to let them know that we’re here and we’re going to do whatever it takes to keep them in our community. It’s a real honour.”

Leaving the community has never really been an option, says Steve.

He points to the many friends that help them out, get involved and organize things, like this fundraiser, without even being asked.

“I wouldn’t consider living anywhere else,” he says. But the family would like to be able to explore the territory around them.

“We travel a lot with the boys,” says Steve. Taking a plane for other cities and countries is often easier than a walk around Whitehorse.

“We do trips to Vancouver Island and Mexico. We’ve taken them to places like Cairo. And we really, really try to do things like that but we haven’t been able to access the Yukon because we don’t have a vehicle that can take these chairs safely up to Denali or Tombstone or something like that. Obviously, we’re not going to go far off the road, but we’re really looking forward to camping with the boys. We haven’t been able to do that since they stopped walking.

“We’re planning a tour into Alaska this summer. If we have this vehicle we’re going to do something like that.”

The “Beaulieu’s Bus” fundraiser will be at the Mt. McIntyre Recreation Centre on Feb. 11 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. There will be live music, a silent auction and a cash bar. All proceeds will go to the family. Tickets are $20 and available at Icycle Sport. There is room for 300 people. They have to be 19 years or older.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, pictured at a press conference in October, announced three new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 as well as a new public exposure notice. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 cases, public exposure notice announced

The new cases have all been linked to previous cases

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read