TED Fund


Donna Pistell was born on February 3, 1940 in Victoria, and as a result of a severe birth injury, lived with profoundly disabling cerebral palsy throughout her life. Although she was unable to walk, care for herself, or even speak clearly, Donna’s adventurous spirit, wit, and sparkling intelligence drew people to her. As a young woman, Donna decided to live independently, and with the consent of her brave and loving parents, Ted and Eleanor, she was able to live on her own, ultimately purchasing a condominium in Sidney. In the 1980s and 90s she took up sailing and in 1985 she travelled throughout Europe with friends.

During her 40s, Donna studied at the University of Victoria, completing a substantial number of courses towards a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, with a focus on Pacific and Asian Studies. She also worked for a period as a research assistant for one of her professors.

Donna was a lifelong advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. Some of her letters to the provincial government sparked questions in the legislature, where Donna was mentioned by name. She was often asked to speak to advocacy groups on this topic and she was part of the fight against cutbacks to home support. In 2010, at the age of 70, Donna achieved her lifelong dream of a trip to Greece. She spent a month with her caregivers driving throughout the country in a wheelchair-friendly van, engrossed in museums, archeological digs and savoring Greek cuisine.

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