This past weekend, I participated in the Canuck Place Adventure Challenge with my team, Team Gabrielle.
Our team was awesome. We raised over $10,000, we trained together, and we worked hard! We also had a good reason: one year ago my niece, Gabrielle, was born with I-Cell disease, a rare genetic disorder with no hope for a cure and a very short lifespan.
I never dreamed in a million years that a charity like Canuck Place would be so near and dear to my heart; but it is, for many, many reasons. Shortly after Gabrielle was born, she received a stem-cell transplant. She was hospitalized for 5 months. Day in, day out, my sister and her husband would take turns spending the night at the hospital with Gabrielle, or spending the night at home with their two boys. It took a huge toll on their family, and finally, in July, they were sent to Canuck Place for respite care.
At Canuck Place, Gabrielle was able to receive the 24-hour nursing care she needed, and the doctors, who had already seen her at Children's Hospital, knew everything about her. She had her own beautiful room with windows that you could open and breathe in the fresh air. She had a huge pram that allowed her to go outside and feel the sun on her face. And she was able to go outside her room and anywhere in the house, whereas in the hospital she was stuck in the tiny little transplant room. You could see her spirits rise!
My sister and the rest of her family all stayed there too. They had excellent home-cooked meals; there were volunteers to help with the busy boys with tons of fun and creative activities; they were able to enjoy quiet, sleep-filled nights; and there were amazing staff and other families who could relate to what they were going through too.
A week into their stay, my family went to visit them. We stayed for dinner and got to experience some of the excitement that they talked about. It was incredible, it was everything my sister said and more. I saw first-hand how amazing Gabrielle looked. I saw the colour back in my sister's face. I saw my nephews laughing, and I saw how rested my brother-in-law looked. It was awesome, this is where my gratitude for Canuck Place began!
So, on Sunday, when I crossed the finish line at the Adventure Challenge, holding hands with my sister Amy, and my wonderful friends Nadia and Adrienne, I was completely overwhelmed. It was perfect. Gabrielle was there in her daddy's arms, my husband and my kids were there cheering me on, my nephews were there excited for us to finish; our IF trainer, Isabelle, who spent hours and hours training us was there; and I knew all the people in Gabrielle’s support system who had made donations and sent us wonderful words of encouragement were there in spirit too. It was awesome!