The Milton H.O.G.® Chapter started collecting pop tabs in the fall of 1993. This is how it all began.
Robert, the nephew of a Milton Chapter member, was involved in a terrible accident in 1993. Robert’s family heard about “Pop Tabs for Wheelchairs” from the article "Heroes for Today" written by Priti Yelaga that ran in Reader's Digest in September 1993 and also in the Kitchener Waterloo Record. The article was about two men at the Royal Canadian Legion in Elora who collected pop tabs that were sold to buy wheelchairs.
The family thought this might be the answer for Robert, as he was hoping to get a “sports wheelchair”. Robert’s aunt contacted Jack Baumber, explained who she was and why she was calling. She explained what she was hoping Milton H.O.G.® would do to help her nephew and the Elora Legion’s "Pop Tabs for Wheelchairs" endeavour. She assured Mr. Baumber she represented "good bikers" and asked him if he would mind if her fellow bikers came to Elora with our offer of pop tabs. Jack said he would welcome any amount of pop tabs we could give them, and that the bikers would be most welcome in Elora. He also said he would be adding Robert's name to his waiting list for wheelchairs.
After that phone call, at the next meeting of the Milton H.O.G.® Chapter (we were only about 87 strong at the time), those in attendance were told about Robert's condition. The Chapter was asked if they would consider saving pop tabs for the rest of the year, the idea being to hold a "ride" to Elora in the fall of 1994. Milton H.O.G.® Chapter members got their families and friends involved. Everyone started saving pop tabs at their kid's schools, their work places and their churches.
That first run was beautiful; about 90 strong. With bags and boxes of pop tabs tied to the bikes, the group headed off to Elora. They had managed to save about 800 pounds of tabs in less then a year. The family still has the first route map. They remember that the group looked like a ribbon of bikes snaking their way along the road. “It was a beautiful sight, we looked like poetry in motion, and I will never forget it. Here I am getting all misty eyed, just telling you the story.” When they arrived at the Elora Legion, Louise was expecting an opportunity for everyone to have a "rest break" and a hot cup of coffee. To her surprise, they were greeted with a light lunch and country music. Everyone had a blast.
At the following Milton H.O.G.® Chapter meeting, after a big thank you from the family, a member asked “Aren't we doing this again next year?” The membership responded, “Hey, it's a great cause! We want to do it again. And why not involve our sister chapters?”
This is how the Pop Tab Run began. Robert got his chair in 2002. We are approaching our 18th Annual Pop Tab Run and we are getting pop tabs from people from all walks of life. We all look forward to seeing our old friends each year. When people heard about the Pop Tab Run for the first time, they would say, “But we have no pop tabs. Can we give cash instead?” Because of this, we introduced the donation jar and a 50/50 draw, the proceeds of which also go to “Pop Tabs for Wheelchairs”.
Once the pop tabs are handed over to the Elora Legion, their "tab committee" decides who will benefit from the next chair or whatever aid they purchase with the proceeds from the pop tabs. Wheelchair costs depend completely on what the person who will receive it requires. One year the Legion used the proceeds to purchase a large tri-cycle so a wee boy born with a spinal birth defect could play with his friends. Another year, the Legion used the proceeds from Milton's pop tabs along with what they already had to purchase a scooter for a lady who was confined to a wheelchair due to arthritis. This lovely lady entertained us at one of our Pop Tab Runs with her guitar. She also plays guitar at her church gatherings.
Our Pop Tab Run to participate in “Pop Tabs for Wheelchairs” truly is a “Feel Good” event!