Updated: Aug 14, 2021
The love and support of Irek Wegiel's family has gotten him through life in the uncaring George Pearson Centre (Photo: Agnes Cayer)
By Spencer van Vloten
August 11th, 2021
Irek Wegiel lived a fun and fulfilling life, but ALS eventually left him in need of constant care. Assured he'd find the highest quality of care at Vancouver's George Pearson Centre, he instead found himself neglected in an institution short on compassion.
Only through an unconditional bond with his family has Irek found the strength to continue in a place where he fears for his life.
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Andrew Wegiel makes the trip 6 days a week.
From his home off Marine Drive in Vancouver, he travels 35 minutes to George Pearson Centre.
The drive there's unremarkable. A lot of grey roads and passing vehicles; not a lot of interesting sights or scenic views.
But this trip means everything in the world to Andrew, who's going to visit his son Irek, 48, a resident of the South Vancouver long-term care centre.
Irek Wegiel was a man of many talents.
A chef, a martial artist, a jokester who loved to make people laugh and smile. He volunteered extensively and even won an award for chasing down and disarming a man who’d carried out a knife attack.
In his sister Agnes’s words, “it’s because of him that I am who I am.”
But while Irek was entering the prime of his life, ALS began to slow him down. In his mid-20s he started losing his balance, by his early-30s he relied on a wheelchair, and by 35 he was bed-ridden, and unable to care for himself.