Volunteer Profiles: Bill Blodgett

Written By:  Brendan Hair

Despite suffering a stroke in 2003 Bill Blodgett is peddling a path he hopes stroke survivors will follow.

While the road to recovery seems daunting Bill feels there is no reason to give up based on his experience.  From his progression the Peterborough resident advises survivors to remain positive. He believes there’s always ways to persevere if you want something bad enough.

“There is always hope – Don’t give up. There is always a way to do something. It takes me a little bit longer but there is nothing that stops me from doing what I want to do,” said Bill.

One example of Bill’s perseverance comes from his source of transportation. While Bill’s comfortable with the bus he would not be satisfied without a chance to use his bicycle. With the support of adult stabilizer wheels he’s continued riding his bike for leisure and to attend the two March of Dimes of Canada programs that he volunteers with: the Aphasia and Communication Disabilities Program, and Life After Stroke, a Stroke Recovery Canada chapter in Peterborough.

Bill Blodgett and Bicycle
Bill Blodgett and his love of cycling

Along with his cycling passion Bill began setting his sights on regaining his driver’s license. He’s optimistic after seeing a fellow Life After Stroke volunteer driving a modified car.

For Bill, being a part of his local stroke support chapter has also had a positive impact in his recreational time.  Another member of Life After Stroke introduced him to a swimming program at the YMCA. Bill now attends the YMCA three times a week.  

Despite always being on a tight schedule Bill recalls never missing the weekly Aphasia program, which he started volunteering for in 2011.   He was also named a guest speaker at the York-Durham’s Aphasia’s Centre’s 25th anniversary in 2014.

As a volunteer Bill compliments March of Dimes Canada as an organization full of great ideas and inspirations.

“I would never have dreamt that they would be so innovative.”

To learn more about the March of Dimes Canada programs that Bill participates in, visit:  Aphasia and Communication Disabilities Program and Stroke Recovery Canada.

Volunteer Profiles: John Hurst

If it wasn’t for curiosity created by his neurologist John Hurst may not be a volunteer with March of Dimes of Canada (MODC) today.

After suffering a stroke in 1999, John’s neurologist said his speech could improve, but John was eager to find out more on how. He continued his journey on the internet, which led him to a speech-language pathologist. He learned from the pathologist about York-Durham Aphasia Centre (YDAC), and began volunteering there in 2002.  While most of the volunteers at YDAC are not stroke survivors, John’s stroke experience certainly adds to what he brings to the program.  He has also been serving on the Board of Stroke Recovery Canada’s Toronto Central Chapter since 2008.

John considers his aphasia diagnosis less severe than many. He overcame many weaknesses quickly and never required a wheelchair.  While feeling fortunate about his recovery, John takes more appreciation seeing his children and supporting fellow stroke survivors.

John Hurst

“Just giving back a little bit is something I can do and help people,” said John.

While John knows from experience it’s impossible to make a complete stroke recovery he is optimistic about the progress that survivors can make.

“It’s not the end of the world (and) there is life after a stroke for sure.”

He believes people need to be more educated about stroke survivors because some assume they can no longer speak.   “(Stroke survivors are) never going to be 100 per cent but (they) will improve (their speech) and the improvement is what I like to see in people.”

To learn more about the March of Dimes Canada programs visit:  York-Durham Aphasia Centre  and Stroke Recovery Canada

By:  Brendan Hair


When You Hear Someone Knocking At Your Door It Might Be A Volunteer From March of Dimes Canada

By: Mary Lynne Stewart, Director of Fund Development and Communications, March of Dimes Canada.

This winter has been a long one. We have all been affected by the ice and the temperature and it has made me admire the brave spirit of our Door-to-Door volunteers as they have gone out despite this cold weather and knocked on the neighbors’ doors. It has been my privilege to meet some of the folks that do this for March of Dimes, and again I am always reminded of why we work for March of Dimes. We have dozens of volunteers who have been doing this for over 20 years. We always try and say thank you but somehow it does not seem enough. Stories of what I call heroes are what we remember at the end of the day. People ask why do we do this in January?  The reason is that it goes back to our roots when the organization started, and the bigger story is of what the ‘Marching Mothers’ of the 1950’s did for their children to stop the epidemic of polio. They went door-to-door to collect dimes to stop this horrible disease and I think they were heroes, just as I think our door-to-door volunteers are heroes. It takes courage to knock on your neighbour’s door. I know how I feel when I am sitting down with my family at dinner and someone knocks at the door. You think “Who is at my door and bothering me?” but I always go to the door and give because I think of our volunteers going door to door. My thought is that if I am nice to whoever is at the door, people will be nice to our volunteers.

Joan Hobbs

This is March of Dimes month and we want to celebrate our volunteers by letting them know how much we appreciate what they do.  One volunteer who truly embodies the spirit of our Door-to-Door campaign is Joan Hobbs, who has been involved with the Door-to-Door Campaign in Aylmer for an astonishing 57 years! Joan started her volunteer campaign with a group of women in her community. At one point about 20-25 years ago, as each of the ladies passed on, the job of knocking on doors became too much for Joan to handle.  Many people would have simply stopped volunteering at that point – but not Joan!  Instead, she converted her door-to-door campaign to a mail campaign – and continues to do so. Each year, she personally stuffs and labels more than 3,000 appeal letters!  As donations come in, Joan personally hand-delivers receipts to donors. She has raised more than $3,000 every year for the last three years. It’s a fair guess to say that over the last 55 years, Joan has helped to rise over $150,000 for March of Dimes!  Joan proves unequivocally that one person can truly make a difference.

So my closing thought is: remember when you look out at the snow and you hear someone knocking at your door, it might be a volunteer from March of Dimes that is there on behalf of Canadians with disabilities. So please open the door and thank them for doing what they do.

If you would like to become a March of Dimes Door-to-Door canvasser or online canvasser and would like more information please click here.