For his whole life, Richmond resident Balraj Partridge has suffered from spina bifida, a birth defect in which an area of the spinal column doesn’t form properly.
This has never stopped him from accomplishing his goals, even if that means rappelling 19 storeys down the outside of a building for Easter Seals BC/Yukon’s annual Drop Zone fundraiser.
Last year, Partridge rappelled down the Central City Office Tower in Surrey at the Drop Zone for one reason, to raise awareness and funds for a charity that has meant so much to him for over a decade.
“Regardless if you’re a pro at rappelling, or have never done it before, Drop Zone is an inclusive event that gives people of all abilities a unique, once-in-a-lifetime chance to challenge themselves and make a difference in the lives of persons with disabilities,” said Partridge. “I can tell you firsthand just how important Easter Seals has played in my life.”
As a teenager, Partridge attended Camp Squamish. The camp is one of three Easter Seals summer camps in B.C., which offers a unique camping experience for children with disabilities. He returned last year to be a counsellor at Camp Winfield in the Okanagan.
One of Partridge’s biggest supporters, and the loudest cheerer at the Drop Zone fundraiser is his mom Cindy.
“My son has grown into this amazing young man and Easter Seals has done that,” said Cindy. “As a child it allowed him to be a child and be free, and as an adult, it allowed him independence and an ability to spread his wings and soar.”
Jennifer Vasarhely, the marketing manager at Easter Seals BC and Yukon, said that the Drop Zone fundraiser allows people with or without physical disabilities to help raise funds and challenge themselves for a good cause.
“People with physical disabilities, such as being in a wheelchair, are facing challenges every day of their life. Challenges that we can’t even imagine and take for granted every day. So, our Drop Zone fundraiser event really takes it to the next level for the participants who are raising funds and allows them to challenge themselves to step up, face their fears and repel down the outside of the building,” Vasarhely said.
Last year, the fundraiser raised $250,000 and hopes to raise $500,000 this year.
While Partridge is only the second person in a wheelchair to accomplish this feat, he praises Easter Seals for giving him the confidence and independence to pursue his goals from a young age.
There are five locations across B.C. in which the Drop Zone events are taking place. These include Sep. 7 at the Guinness Tower in Vancouver, Sep. 12 at the Central City Office Tower in Surrey, Sep. 14 at the Metrotown Office Tower in Burnaby, Sep. 19 in Victoria and Sep. 26 at the Landmark 7 building in Kelowna.