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I would like to thank you so very much for your recent efforts on my behalf. The bar that you constructed for my wheelchair has been a complete success. I realize that a simple metal bar will not change the world but it has made my wanderings in it a lot easier."

Tetra client Pamela Read
(Hamilton, ON volunteers fabricated a shopping bag holder between her wheelchair footrests)









Vancouver Gizmo Awards

Volunteers that enable individuals with significant disabilities to overcome everyday barriers were honoured and a new communal workshop opened, at an event hosted by the Vancouver Tetra chapter.

The 2010 Gizmo Awards and Tetra Workshop grand opening, held at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, Vancouver, in June, brought together clients, volunteers and funders for a look at how the volunteer group aids people with disabilities overcome day-to-day barriers.

Everyone present got the opportunity to look at the group’s new 620-square-foot, fully equipped workshop, which is a shared resource for the chapter’s 35 volunteers. Equipment so far includes a radial saw, band saw, lathes, drill press and a variety of hand tools – and more is being sourced as required.

The event featured a presentation by principal workshop funder Tzu Chi Foundation Canada, a Buddhist relief organization that has 297 branch offices in 47 countries, supporting social inclusion projects.

The Gizmo Awards themselves were in five categories (information below), providing a brief snapshot of the 112 devices for people with disabilities the chapter collectively created over the past year.

Speaking at the event, Tetra founder Sam Sullivan spoke of the difference an engineer made to his life, volunteering to help adapt various household items - and how this inspired him to form Tetra. The group’s first ever volunteer, Paul Cermak, enabled Sam to feed and dress himself, and open his apartment blinds – a bigger deal than it may sound; previously the blinds were kept shut 24-7, so at least Sam could sleep.

He said that volunteers have told him Tetra provides “the chance to give,” while the volunteers provide people with disabilities “the chance to be human.” The event was about thanking the volunteers, he said.

“There are two important elements,” he said. “The volunteers that come forward to give their time, and the disabled people that make a statement about their life: I want to move on with my life – I want help. It’s a huge gift to let other people help.”

2010 Gizmo Awards

Community Impact Award – sponsored anonymously

Device: Dragon Boat Seat

Award recipients: Clive Rush, Delta, and Joseph Choi, Port Coquitlam

Quality of Life Award – sponsored by Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC

Device: Wheelchair Bike Trailer

Award recipient: Ruben Ugarte, North Vancouver

Tools for Tykes Award– sponsored anonymously

Device: Scooter Modification

Award recipient: John Connor, Mission

Innovation Award – sponsored by Sidewinder Conversions & Mobility

Device: Sip ‘n’ puff bed controller

Award recipient: Colin Adamson, North Vancouver

Sam Sullivan Award – sponsored by Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of BC

Device: Bouquet Holder

Award recipient: Marvin Pflug, Surrey, and Jaclyn Sharpe, Surrey


Tetra founder Sam Sullivan honouring the group's first-ever volunteer, Paul Cermak.


Tetra volunteers showing people around their new workshop.


Main workshop sponsor:


Tetra is an independent non-profit that provides custom assistive devices to people with significant physical disabilities. Its volunteer engineers work one-on-one with those with a specific need that cannot be met by commercial aids.

If you are in need of an assistive device to overcome some sort of daily barrier, or else would like to give your technical services to help out, or donate money to enable us to continue to serve people with disabilities, please contact us at head office.



HeartsDonate to Tetra's Vancouver Chapter

Help support the dedicated volunteers of Tetra’s Metro Toronto chapter who give their time and expertise to make assistive devices for people with disabilities in the community. Your contribution will pay for the materials needed to design and build a custom assistive device. Donate now.