RNC UNITES TO HELP RETIREE
By Danette Dooley
By Danette Dooley
743 words – MR dooley may.jpg
RNC unites to help retiree
by Danette Dooley
Retired RNC Const. Aiden Kenny was left paralyzed from the chest down in a car crash on the Trans Canada Highway in 1987. His only means of transportation and independence was an accessible van.
Despite his injury, Kenny returned to work and retired in 1998.
When members of the RNC Veteran’s Association heard that his van had given up the biscuit late last year they decided to do something about it. Ret. RNC Sgt. Bob Escott, president of the Veteran’s Association, presented Kenny the keys to a brand new wheelchair accessible van March 20.
Escott told the standing room only crowd how the project had come about.
“On Feb. 5, Eric Keating, a retired staff sergeant of the RNC, issued a 10-33 (officer requires assistance). He explained the situation and that retired Cst. Aiden Kenny was in need of a handicapped access vehicle,” Escott said.
Escott and Keating raised the matter at an association breakfast the next morning and the association immediately set out to raise the money. Helping those who need help in the policing community is what police officers do, Escott said.
“Being a police officer is not a job, it’s a way of life… It’s who you are. You always look after your own.”
The day after the breakfast, Keating and ret. Sgt. Paul Dawn showed up at Escott’s home with a wheelchair accessible van and asked him what he thought of it.
“I said, ‘It’s nice.’ They said, ‘Why don’t we buy it?’ I said, ‘Are you crazy?'” Escott recalled with a chuckle.
The members decided the idea was not only sensible but doable and raised the $47,000 needed in just six weeks.
Escott thanked all those who contributed to the purchase – including numerous local businesses and several regions of the International Police Association.
Dep/Chief Ab Singleton thanked the association for initiating the project. The initiative is a great example of just how deep the roots of the police force are within the community, he said.
“Aiden retired in 1998… Over 50 per cent of the force would not be in the force when he left, but the number of younger officers that showed up that night (a fundraiser at Bridie Molloy’s club in downtown St. John’s) to show their support… and people who supported it by buying and selling tickets – it’s just so good to see.”
Kenney went through two wheelchair vans since the crash, said wife Jeanette, and lost much of his independence after the second one, which was 12 years old, broke down for good in Nov. 2014.
“Something as simple as just going to a barbershop, that’s not something he could do on his own (without a van). So this has given him his life back. It’s given me my husband back. There are just not enough words for me to let everyone know how we really truly feel about this.”
Kenny said she wasn’t surprised that her husband’s former comrades and current day friends would be so kind to buy the vehicle. However, she said, she’s surprised that the project came to reality so quickly.
The project snowballed, she said, once word got out about the fundraising efforts on her husband’s behalf.
“Eric Keating started the ball rolling without our knowing. He knew Aiden is a laid-back kind of guy and would say ‘No, that’s okay.'”
During the presentation at RNC headquarters, Kenny sat in his wheelchair facing the large crowd that filled the room: family members, retired and rank-and-file officers, civilian members, RNC brass, members of the public and media and others who gave to the project and wanted to be there to see Kenny accept the gift.
Kenny thanked Keating, ret. S/Sgt. Paul Dawe, Escott and Escott’s wife Helen, a ret. RCMP civilian member who worked as spokesperson for “B” Division for many years – and everyone else who donated.
“This fundraiser was absolutely amazing, totally overwhelming… I’m still finding it hard to believe,” Kenny said.
“I just want to say thank-you very much. You’ve not only given me a means of transportation but you’ve given me my freedom back – and that is something that is priceless,” an emotional Kenny said.
Photo: L-R: RNC D/Chief Ab Singleton, Ret. Sgt. Robert Escott, Ret. Cst. Aiden Kenny, Ret. S/Sgt. Paul Dawe and Ret. S/Sgt. Eric Keating shortly after Kenny was presented with his new van.