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Inspirational young Parksville man reaches fundraising goal in quest for specialized van

Column: VIU honour student Tagen Marshall grateful for community support

Parksville’s Tagen Marshall will soon be riding in style.

Marshall is a student at VIU, studying philosophy with a goal of completing a doctorate and becoming a teacher. He also has spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, which requires 24/7 care.

He was born at 26 weeks, weighing just more than two pounds. He didn’t leave the hospital until he was 2 ½ months old.

The cerebral palsy means his muscles will continue to tighten and contract his entire life, leaving him in constant pain.

But he nonetheless attacks life with a remarkable enthusiasm, eager to learn and to spread his positive message and help others.

I first met Marshall in early 2021 and was grateful he allowed us to share his story, as he began fundraising efforts to purchase a specialized van, retrofitted for his specific needs. He wanted to be as independent as possible, supporting himself and his many projects and to that end, the new van was crucial as the one he was using was breaking down. And, after aging out of the childcare system, it meant some government funding was not available.

So along with the Berg family in Parksville (who he lives with full-time) he began fundraising, even meeting with and receiving support from Rick Hansen, known as the ‘Man In Motion’ for his epic 26-month, 34 country, 40,000-kilometre wheelchair trip around the world to make the world inclusive for people with disabilities and to find a cure for paralysis.

Recently, Marshall was pleased to share news they had reached their fundraising goal (taking in more than $93,000) and said his new wheels should become a reality in short order.

“Thanks to generosity of many many wonderful human beings, we not only met the goal, but surpassed the goal,” said Marshall. “So that was very much a blessing, so very much appreciated.”

He said they ended up choosing a 2022 Toyota Sienna Hybrid, and are now in “waiting mode” as all the paperwork is completed before delivery. He shared a quote from van sales rep Joe Cyr of Island Mobility: “In 18 years of providing wheelchair accessible vans I have never seen a fundraising effort succeed to this magnitude. The community can feel proud of the support they’ve given to Tagen.”

Marshall said he was humbled by all the support he has received.

‘It’s exciting to see different parts of my different communities come together,” he said. “As we’ve said before, this allows me to be a contributing member to society in general, to give back to those that have invested in me. It gives me opportunities to build relationships, continue educational pursuits and enter the workforce.”

“Thank you seems so trite,” he continued, saving special thanks for the Berg family and all they continue to do for him. “So many people have stepped up to invest in me, not just in the van but in such a personal way. My gratitude goes beyond words and I hope with all I accomplish, I can take that generosity and make our world better.”

Once the van arrives, Marshall said, he’ll be happy to make it a special day to share with everyone.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “It just means so much to me and I consider everyone who has donated in any way to be a part of my team and my success.”

READ MORE: Wolf: Young Parksville man works to acquire new vehicle to help open doors

PQB News/VI Free Daily editor Philip Wolf can be reached at, 250-905-0019 or on Twitter @philipwolf13.

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Philip Wolf

About the Author: Philip Wolf

I’ve been involved with journalism on Vancouver Island for more than 30 years, beginning as a teenage holiday fill-in at the old Cowichan News Leader.
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