Pembroke – In what many are describing as an act of unselfishness like they’ve never seen before, a Pembroke couple is giving away their pride and joy – a beautifully restored 1915 Model T Ford to save the life of a friend who desperately requires an expensive drug not covered by OHIP.
Darwen and Yvonne Briscoe are accepting $100 donations in return for a ticket to win the vehicle which has been appraised at $65,000, but cost well over $100,000 to rebuild. Only 500 tickets are available so the odds of winning a prize like this just doesn’t get much better.
If all of the tickets go by donation, about $40,000 of the $50,000 raised will go to cover the cost of the drug required by Pembroke native Ashley (Astle) Pleau who has severe asthma to the point where she is a a double lung transplant candidate. Her lungs are shutting down and it is critical she receive the drug, Xolair, before it’s too late.
Ashley is a wife and mother of three who works in the palliative care outreach program at the Roger Neilson House at CHEO creating a caring and compassionate environment for the children she works with. Without this medicine, her life expectancy drops dramatically to critical. She took a turn for the worse on January 26 and now time is of the essence for her to get the drug.
She is the daughter of Andre and Tracy Lynn Astle of Pembroke. He is a retired member of the armed forces and a veteran, and was in the process of arranging a second mortgage on their home to cover the cost of the drug when the Briscoes stepped up to the plate with the generous offer.
The two couples are close friends and when Mr. Astle told Mr. Briscoe he was arranging for a second mortgage and why, Mr. Briscoe said he would raffle off his hot rod to raise money.
“Ashley has had really severe asthma her entire life,” Mrs. Briscoe said. “She started having some major health issues, went in for some surgeries and a few weeks ago she came close to dying.”
“If she wasn’t the age she was and had children, they wouldn’t have revived her,” Mr. Briscoe added. “They brought her back.”
The day after her last surgery on January 25, Mr. Briscoe visited Mr. Astle who told him he thought he could get a second mortgage on his house to buy the drug.
“And I said ‘No, you can’t do that’,” Mr. Briscoe said, choking back tears. “You can’t do that. It’s just a car.”
“He said, ‘what’s just a car’? I said mine. I’m going to make a raffle and get rid of the car so that Ashley can get her medicine.
“I’m not going to watch my friend put his house up that he can’t afford at our age. I have this car sitting in storage. We’re gifted to be able to have something like this and to be able to do this.”
Mr. Astle argued he couldn’t do that because the car was his friend’s pride and joy, but Mr. Briscoe told him he had no say in the matter, it’s already done and the tickets are being printed.
And they were. As of last Friday, more than one hundred had been spoken for with $100 donations.
Many people who have made donations have told the Briscoes if they win the car, they will give it back to them. But the couple say they are fully prepared to let it go.
The Briscoes regard Ashley as an angel for her work in end-of-life care with children.
“This girl has the energy that I personally, when I look at her, I see an angel,” Mrs. Briscoe said.
“The bottom line for both of us is, we just honestly looked at each other and said we just can’t imagine a world without Ashley. We need her. She’s family.”
Coincidentally, Mr. Briscoe ended up buying the Model T almost three years ago for a very good price from a woman who was grateful for assistance the Briscoes provided to her niece who also had a health issue.
The Briscoes enjoyed the car for two seasons, travelling to car shows across the Valley and bringing home trophies. It was an attention grabber wherever they went, especially when they towed the little red Coca Cola trailer behind. But the trailer doesn’t go with the car. They will pull that behind their motorcycle. The car is all original and it sits on a tube frame with Jaguar suspension and rear-end. It has a 302 Ford engine with 300 horsepower. It was featured in several Toronto Santa Claus parades with then Mayor Mel Lastman riding in it.
The Briscoes had hoped to enjoy many more years with the car, but Mrs. Briscoe has lupus and so she has to avoid the sun as much as possible. The car sat idle last year because of COVID-19 and the cancellation of car shows and that also helped make their decision a little easier.
“We just thought it would be much nicer to do this with it,” he said. “We had our fun and we got a lot of trophies. And we’ve been in the paper a few times. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s my pride and joy.
“It’s Archie comics. It’s Jughead’s hot rod,” he said of the red car.
The Briscoes opened Nature’s Reality almost four years ago. The business specializes in the production and sale of hemp infused healing products to treat many different health issues. They have done very well in the business and they believe in giving back to their community and lending a helping hand to people in need.
The $40,000 drug is for a one-year treatment. The Briscoes are hoping the full year treatment will cure Ashley, but if further treatments are required they are hopeful the pharmaceutical company will have lowered the cost of the drug or OHIP will cover further treatments.
The only other hope for Ashley is a double lung transplant, but time isn’t on her side for that.
The raffle for the car will be held when all of the tickets are sold.
When asked what it will feel like to give the car away, Mr. Briscoe replied: “It’s going to feel awesome because I’ll know that Ashley got what she needs,” he said. “And that’s my whole goal.”
For more information, call 613 639 2661 or stop by Natures Reality Botanical Blends at 526 McGee Street Pembroke.