Imagine being diagnosed with leukemia as a child. But what if cancer had never been diagnosed?
Or worse, what if a child is diagnosed with a disability, but their parents can’t afford the equipment needed to help their child live his or her full life?
The Roncoran family of Toronto has received the gift of a lifetime. Jeremy and Catherine Roncoran, both international entrepreneurs and altruists, have given their 11-year-old son, Johnny, a brand new wheelchair.
David Lam, the Roncoran’s personal care assistant (PCA), explains, “It was so exciting for me. I’ve worked with Jamie for over 10 years and my experience has been very rewarding. It makes me feel like I’m part of the team and it was really great working with the Roncoran family.”
Lam adds, “The family is committed to working together to improve life for others, to do it one person at a time.”
But it’s not just the giving that is impressive. Toronto’s city government has recognized the Roncoran’s efforts and made them honorary ambassadors for the city of Toronto. It is a commendable act. And a reminder of why governments should be doing more for their citizens and why Americans should demand even more from them.
When the Roncoran’s son was first diagnosed with leukemia, they were faced with weeks of “living on a knife edge.”
According to Lam, the boy was wheelchair bound and had limited mobility, not to mention a pretty severe infection which left him in intensive care for days.
As the story goes, when the boy’s doctors told the Roncoran’s they couldn’t find a way to help Johnny using any traditional equipment, the Roncoran’s set out to find a way. They soon discovered that the first step involved a trip to India where they visited an organization that would fit a technology known as a personal wheel chair for their son for $40,000. The result: a completely custom-made wheel chair that is wheelchair-free, batteries-operated, and can accommodate the shape and size of Johnny’s body.
The Roncoran’s discovered that since almost no-one else is doing anything like this, they would need to create an organization that could adapt to whatever donations they receive from the public and help other families in need. A tireless worker, Lam started the company Big Wheel Technology which is dedicated to finding products that make accessible the most disadvantaged people around the world. The Roncoran’s recognized that their main job isn’t just to make Johnny’s life easier—it’s to try to help other families like their own one day.
The Roncoran’s activism wasn’t always welcome. As they made their way across India to deliver their Wheel Chair, a man yelled at them and said “If you set up a company that will help the people, no one can say anything about it.”
But when the Roncoran’s found this wheelchair, they knew they were doing something much larger than just helping their son.
“Catherine and I are both business-oriented and have a passion for seeing companies that do good things grow and expand,” explains Lam.
In the Roncoran’s eyes, their real work was done by paying it forward and changing the lives of others.
“It’s really important to us that every child and every child’s family is included,” says Jeremy Roncoran.
The Roncoran’s generosity and altruism have not gone unnoticed. They are now official honorary ambassadors for the city of Toronto, and they had a special showstopper on New Year’s Eve when more than 150 community members gathered at Chris Brown Square in the city’s Chinatown for a midnight celebration. More than 500 were in attendance—and the Roncoran’s thanked them all with a massive fireworks display.
The reason the Roncoran’s have been so successful? They believe in their commitment to do good things for others.
Through their charity The Village of Hope, the family of five has helped fund the construction of homes for homeless people in their hometown of Los Angeles.
And through their charity Bayside Foundation,