In 1997, a handsome 23-year old Vancouver waiter named Jade Bell injected himself with an overdose of heroin and cocaine (a speedball). It took paramedics 15 minutes to bring him back to life, but that life was now forever diminished. He awoke after a two month coma to find himself blind, unable to speak and paralyzed primarily from the neck down. His efforts to come back from such a nightmare to fulfill what he now calls “his dream” are both poignant and inspirational and can easily bring you to tears for all kinds of happy/sad reasons. His poetry, love of music and even sense of humour come alive thanks to his specially-designed wheelchair, equiped with a Morse code type headset in which he taps out his words, writes his songs and lectures to kids at schools all across B.C. It is a cruel turn of events for most, but one that this remarkable individual still says “happened for a reason”. A special fundraiser for Jade’s KIDS (Kids Independent of Drugs) was held this week at the Vancouver Club thanks to the support of West Vancouver’s Martyn Element (and Element and Associates) and other North Shore notables. To learn more about this amazing story go to <jadebell.ca>.
|Al Arsenault, a 27-year veteran of the Vancouver Police force and Odd Squad filmmaker, sits at dinner with West Vancouver TV personality Fanny Kiefer.
|Equipped with his cautionary tale and specially-equipped wheelchair, Jade Bell and fiancee/caregiver Sabrina Aven travel to schools all over BC to talk to the kids.
|West Vancouver’s Pilar Izzard, left, who donated a print by her late husband, artist Daniel Izzard, joins guest Kimberley Buchanan, executive producer with Borderless Productions.
|Supporting this very worthwhile cause are Paddy McCleery, left, Catherine Maddin and John McCleery.
|Donating auction items and more to support Jade’s KIDS are West Vancouver’s Carmen Spagnola, left, Brian Kaufman, Valerie Orr and Ron Orr.
|Making it all possible is friend and fan Martyn Element, seen here with daughter Rachel, left, and friend Olivia Lundahl.
|Putting Jade’s poetry and songs to music and performing them live for all to hear is musician/singer Aaron Trory.
As first published in print in the North Shore Outlook newspaper on November 27, 2008