The community is rallying around Phil Hotzon who needs a new electric tricycle. (Contributed)

The community is rallying around Phil Hotzon who needs a new electric tricycle. (Contributed)

Tricycle for Phil: Support pours in for Kelowna man with traumatic brain injury

Phil Hotzon lost his electric tricycle after falling into Mill Creek, fundraiser aims to replace it

Parkinson Recreation Centre staff are excited about helping one of their clients get back on the road with a new tricycle.

Ali Westlund, Mariko Siggers and Andrew Baron have organized a GoFundMe for Phil Hotzon, a regular patron and volunteer at the facility, raising funds to replace his damaged electric tricycle after a tumble late last month.

Ten years ago, Hotzon suffered a traumatic brain injury, which left him with some mobility issues. As a result of the injury, he can’t drive, so he uses a tricycle to get to his appointments and other activities.

Over the past year, Hotzon saved up enough money for a new electric tricycle.

“He purchased it last year but due to COVID, it took a long time to come in. There were supply shortages, so he just got it about two months ago,” she said.

“He loves this bike and he just got it, but now it’s gone.”

On April 30, Hotzon was leaving the recreation centre on his tricycle, using the trail that runs beside Mill Creek. On her way home from work, Siggers was cycling towards Hotzon and moved over to give him some space.

“He was trying to be courteous, and he moved over too. But the spot he chose to move into had quite a drop from the sidewalk to the grass,” Siggers said.

Siggers said as soon as he moved and tipped over, he fell into the creek, along with his electric tricycle. After a while, two other men in the area came over and helped Siggers pull Hotzon out of the water. She said the creek was rushing fast at the time, so it took a long time before they were able to pull the tricycle out of the water.

But by then, the frame had been bent and water damaged the electric components. Kelowna E-Ride, where Hotzon purchased his tricycle, said it was unsalvageable.

People who work with him in his programs at the recreation centre decided to put together a fundraiser to get him a new tricycle.

As of 10 a.m. on Wednesday, just 16 hours after it launched, the fundraiser had raised $2,680 — more than half of the $4,500 goal.

Westlund said Hotzon has no idea they’ve even put a fundraiser together for him, but they know he will be happy and excited once they break the news to him.

“Phil is such a face in the community. Every single person wants to help him out and not because we asked them for help, but because they know and love him,” she said.

“He volunteers in programs when he’s not participating in them; he does anything he possibly can to help out. He is such a positive force and everyone who meets him loves him.”

Siggers said she’s thankful the community has stepped up.

“Everybody here just wants to help. We’re showing how much we care, and it’s awesome,” she said.

“We appreciate everybody’s support. Thank you.”

To help Hotzon replace his tricycle and get back on the road, visit his fundraising page.

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@twilamam
twila.amato@blackpress.ca

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