“No gluten. No dairy. Limited eggs. Limited nuts. Be careful of sugar levels as they are more susceptible to diabetes. Oh, and Kadence doesn’t like peanut butter.”
We got this.
“You’ll need to start eye therapy. Physiotherapy. Massage Therapy. Make an appointment with the swallow clinic. Get Addison fitted for a wheel chair. Quarterly heart assessments.”
Okay, lets make a plan (and as an hourly employee, how much work could Shanna afford to miss, and how much are these additional required therapies going to cost?).
“Massage them every morning before they get out of bed. They need to be as active as possible. Yoga. Swimming. Adaptive bikes.”
“Your current table is unsafe. You need to install support in the bathrooms. Maybe get some hand rails. And a wheelchair ramp.”
Geez. (How much longer can Shanna manage to carry the girls up and down the stairs several times a day? Everyday.)
Last August, I stood in my sister’s kitchen, armed with recipes to help sort through these dietary restrictions and fill her freezer full of food for the girls. This was going to be a physical and emotional marathon. Every week the girls will have multiple appointments (doctors, specialists, therapies, activities) and Shanna needed to be as prepared as possible to manage what lies ahead. After an exhausting journey to receive a diagnosis, she fiercely manages the girls health on a day-to-day basis.
In addition, my sister tries to cope with the fact that both of my sweet nieces’ health was deteriorating. And we have no way to predict what will be next.
On top of it all: her house was no longer suitable for the girls – and it would only get worse.
Watching her, I knew that her plate was so full that the thought of moving and retrofitting a house was too much. Like most of us, she wasn’t able to hold two mortgages during the renovations. And having the girls live in a construction site was not an option. She was a deer caught in the headlights (something only a sister can say) and I didn’t know how she would be able to focus on something as large as moving her family.
Did I mention that she didn’t want to move? She loves her home and especially loves her neighbours.
“I just wish that someone else could think about this,” she cried. “I just wish our stuff could magically move to a place that was safe and happy for the girls.”
Driving away my mind raced about how we could do this for her.
My oldest sister, Jodi, had been working tirelessly to find a solution. Looking at houses, contacting a realtor, contacting every “Extreme Home Makeover”-type program she could think of. She genuinely believed that if we put this out into the Universe, something good would happen. It had to.
Then one September day, the Airdrie Angels program contacted us. They said that Shanna and the girls had touched so many hearts, that they were overwhelmed by the number of applications for assistance submitted in their name. They believed that if we teamed up, they could reach out to their Airdrie networks and we could help Shanna, Kadence and Addison move into a safe, happy home. They even used a “move that bus” reference.
In addition, Shanna is blessed to have a group of lifelong girlfriends that are very close. They are fiercely successful, determined and passionate women. The kind of people that Make. Shit. Happen. They had already formed a small committee that would think about how to support her through this diagnosis. The GoFundMe account was set up, and grants and available tax credits were being researched on Shanna’s behalf. They had found the resources to purchase the home so she did not have to carry two mortgages. They also believed.
So there we were. Two realtors who double as the Airdrie Angels founders, a general contractor and accessibility renovation specialists, my mom, my new baby and our angel investor. We had found a suitable house in Shanna’s community. It is a one-story house that needs a ton of work to be ready for the girls. Together, we decided to pull the trigger and secretly purchase a house for my sister. Video.
We believed that if we worked hard enough and told enough people this story, the community would step up and help us make this possible. Otherwise, we are leaving my sister with a bigger mortgage, and a house that needs to be renovated.
Life isn’t fair. There is nothing that will fix that and we will struggle everyday to make sense of this.
But life is so amazing. It’s the moments where people are so touched by this story and want to help out that we will be forever grateful for. It’s the kindness and generosity of strangers that keeps us moving forward.
Over the course of the project, you will hear from the team that makes up this committee. We will share our successes and requests for support with the hope that our readers support this journey to make a safe, happy home for these deserving girls.
To donate, visit GoFundMe. To volunteer time or materials for the home renovation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sister, Auntie, Godmother, Friend