Unsung heroes need help

Unsung heroes need help

Leukaemia Foundation driver Terry Snelgar was driven by his granddaughter’s three-year ordeal with the disease.

They’re an occasional sight on Perth roads, but to the people they serve, they can be lifesavers.

For more than two decades, the Leukaemia Foundation’s volunteer transport service has been providing people suffering from the disease free transport between hospitals, care facilities and homes.

The service provides more than 38,000 patient trips per year, and last year travelled 1,557,779 kilometres – the equivalent of traveling more than 38 times around the world.

But they still need to do more.

The Leukaemia Foundation is in urgent need of more volunteer drivers to transport those living with blood cancer to and from vital medical appointments.

Terry Snelgar understands the importance of these oft-overlooked volunteers.

He became a driver after his granddaughter was diagnosed with Leukaemia.

“We have three granddaughters, she’s the youngest.

“She was diagnosed at two-and-a-half years old. Obviously, it blew our socks off,” he said.

“We never thought we’d have to walk into the cancer ward of PMH, but there we were.”

The travel his young granddaughter had to face, as well as the mental stress it put on the entire family, drove Mr Snelgar to taking action to help.

“She was going between PMH and Fremantle Hospital to go in the barometric chamber, because she had to fight of a fungal infection she got because her immunity was so low,” he said.

“I had said to my daughter at one stage, ‘I should sign the form, so I can go in there if you get crook’.

“Sure enough, the next week she got a terrible flu, so I had to go in the chamber with my granddaughter.

“You can’t go in there if you’re claustrophobic. It’s a stressful experience, but I wanted to be there for my granddaughter.”

Now Mr Snelgar works not only for his young granddaughter Kira, but also many other children and adults who are in desperate need of transport.

“Really, there are a lot of adults too. So many of them are too sick to drive. After someone goes through chemotherapy, you can see, they’re in no state to drive,” he said.

“They could catch a taxi, but that would cost an arm and a leg, especially when you can’t work.

“I don’t like to talk myself up a lot, but these people need this help. They can’t get be without it.”

Mr Snelgar understands the need to provide the much-needed service to those in need, and is still driven by the help his family got in their time of need.

“There’s such a need for more – most drivers are retired, and won’t be driving forever.

“I’ve picked up extra shifts, because there’s so many people out there who need that help.

“Really, it’s just about being able to help them, and pay back all those people who were there for us. That’s what I get out of it.”

To find out more and to volunteer, contact the Leukaemia Foundation on 1800 620 420.