Accident survivor Brianna Seewald was presented with thousands of drink tabs on Thursday. They were collected at First Choice Convenience with the intention of having the tabs be used to get a wheelchair for Seewald.
“I think the community, for the last two years, has often surprised me,” she says. “And every time I think they can't surprise me more; they surprise me more. And I've said a million times throughout this journey now that ‘thank you’ will never be enough to express the gratitude that I have.”
Tabs for Wheelchairs Program recycles the drink tabs to pay for wheelchairs specific to the needs of the recipient.
Seewald says she now has a wheelchair that is fitted perfectly for her and is planning to use these tabs to pay it forward.
“I know that there are a lot of people in our own community that are struggling with their own mobility equipment and just basic needs,” she says. “And I think I will have a very easy time finding someone, and I do have someone in mind who is in need of a new chair, who has a spinal cord injury and I think that this would be a lovely surprise to her. So, I think if we can get a few more (tabs) we could get a really nice chair for her.”
Some of the drink tabs were collected during the summer while people were at their cabins, while other tabs were delivered by people who collected them in their apartment buildings.
Bob Barrow is a local health advocate and is involved with the Tabs for Wheelchairs Program. He says there is a common question that he fields, people wondering why only tabs are collected instead of the complete tin can? Barrow explains that tabs are cleaner which makes it easier to deal with.
Meanwhile, Seewald continues to advocate for safety changes to the intersection where she nearly died in a collision with another vehicle.
In August of 2020, Seewald slammed into a westbound truck that failed to yield while crossing Highway 12 on Provincial Road 210. That intersection has long been the topic of safety concerns due to the number of collisions that occur at that location.
Since that crash, she has contacted different levels of government as well as the transportation department to push for safety improvements.
“Even with the level of injury that I have, I am very fortunate to be here, and I never want to have to see another person live through something like this when it can be prevented for somebody else.”
Seewald says that changes need to happen to reduce the chances of avoidable crashes. She wonders what it will take before that intersection is improved.
“I am very fortunate that I have a voice where a lot of people don't get to have that. And I will continue to fight for adequate changes that intersection,” she says. “I know a lot of people break it down to ‘it’s driver error,’ ‘it's personal error.’ And that's right. So, let's take the choice away and put up safety measures that can prevent this from happening to anybody else.”
Three months ago, in June, a spokesperson for Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure said it has received and reviewed the In-Service Safety Review, which suggests a number of alternate solutions that the department could consider at this location.
The department is now following up with a functional design study in the area of Highway 12 and PR 210, which will include public engagement to select the preferred alternative for improvement.