By Lyonel Doherty

[email protected]

Recent funding has brought the much-needed Wheels of Hope program to the Kootenays, but volunteer drivers are needed to make it a success in Invermere.

The Canadian Cancer Society is seeking compassionate people to get behind the wheel to transport patients undergoing treatment in Cranbrook. 

“It is such positive news for people facing cancer in these regions,” said recruitment coordinator Mark Kahan. “We are helping make access to cancer treatment easier and also taking a little stress off their (client’s) plate while they may be going through an incredibly difficult time in their life.”

Kahan said they are looking for volunteers not only in Invermere but in Golden as well. “We want to make sure that anyone who needs a ride gets one, but we can only do that with the support of volunteer drivers.”

Volunteers use their own vehicles with a mileage reimbursement or tax receipt.

Drivers will confirm the pick-up time with their clients the day before their scheduled treatment. If their appointment is short, they will wait for the client, but if it’s longer, they will come back to take the client home when the appointment is finished. 

“Our volunteers provide so much more than just transportation. They offer the gift of compassion and kindness to these people. The magic really does happen in the drive (to and from the appointment),” Kahan said.

“A lot of times people don’t want to talk about cancer. They want to share stories from their own life and it can be a very special experience,” he noted. Just a listening ear is all it takes to make a difference.

Kahan said they would like to secure 10 volunteer drivers in Invermere and 10 in Golden.

“That way we can make sure that anyone who needs a ride can get one, and secondly, we can rotate the volunteers so we don’t overuse anyone.”

The time commitment is flexible. “I always say if you have a few days a month to spare, enjoy driving and want to help someone out from your own community, please consider signing up.”

Kahan said this volunteer role is incredibly important, adding the program simply could not operate without the drivers.

He explained that most of their clients don’t have a vehicle, and frankly shouldn’t be driving after their treatments. He stated that it can be a huge burden on the family if they have to drive the individual to the hospital for up to six weeks for radiation therapy.

“A cancer diagnosis doesn’t just affect the individual – it can affect the whole family,” Kahan said.

“We have found that if someone cannot find transportation, they don’t go. And that’s heartbreaking to me, that the only thing preventing them from treatment is just because they don’t have a ride.”

Drivers must be at least 18 years old and willing to undergo a criminal record check with references. They must have a good driving record with three or fewer demerit points, and drive a reliable, 100 per cent smoke-free vehicle.

Wheels of Hope operates Monday to Friday during the day. 

“We ask for a minimum (commitment) of three or more rides per month. We are very flexible. We just want people to stick with us.”

One volunteer driver said he was dropping off a female client when she said, “It’s because of people like you that people like me are still alive. This is one of the most moving statements I have ever heard.”

The volunteer noted that drivers get back so much more than they put into the program.

People can sign up to be a driver by visiting For more information they can email [email protected] or call 1-888-939-3333.