About 20 years ago, Michele and Jeff anxiously awaited the birth of their third child. Their first two daughters, Alyssa and Kaitlyn had uneventful deliveries and were very healthy newborns. Everything seemed normal as Michele carried her last daughter Courtney to term, but as soon as she went into labour, it became obvious something was seriously wrong!
Courtney came so quickly that the hospital did not have enough time to prepare for the birth. Michele saw panic in Jeff's eyes and asked what was wrong; all he could say was "I don't know". Only Jeff was there to deliver the baby and he was unable tell if it was a boy or a girl - all he could see was a stomach and intestines on the outside of the baby’s body. Courtney was born with a rare birth defect called gastroschisis, which can leave a child with lifelong problems or even be deadly.
Courtney was rushed to CHEO to save her life. Both Michele and Jeff were absolutely stunned at the amount of equipment connected to their daughter; from IVs to monitors, a ventilator and even a central line to her heart. She was in a special open incubator that allowed the doctors and nurses unrestricted access to care for her without having to move her body. Jeff and Michele learned that the equipment used on their daughter was purchased as a result of a large donation made by a family who lost their child to the same condition the year before; an unsuccessful attempt had been made to transfer their little boy to Toronto and they never wanted another family to feel that pain. If only one child could be saved by their donation, to them it was worth it. For Jeff and Michele, Courtney was that child, and every birthday they are acutely aware of that family's donation, and how it is a reason Courtney's birthday is a celebration and not a memory of losing their child.
20 years ago, Michele and Jeff pledged to one day raise over 1 million dollars to help our community, yet the "how" was the constant problem to which they struggled to find a solution. The situation their daughter faced made it apparent there was a need, if only they could figure out the way to make it happen.
Fast forward ten years. Michele was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and had her own battle to fight. Again, the need for funding, education, and prevention became obvious when she learned the astonishing number of young people suffering from cancer. Her time off work gave her the chance to focus her energy on new ideas, which were a welcome distraction.
An idea was born: Health, wellness, and fundraising - Health & Charity! Just as Michele and Jeff were launching their new venture, Holly and Scott were posted to Ottawa (with the military), and moved in down the road.
Holly & Scott had been posted around the county several times over the previous five years, and while it was impossible to predict their postings, it looked as thought they might stay in Ottawa for an extended period of time. From a young age, Holly had been taught that considering others in our actions is the most beneficial step we can take towards a happier life, and it had proven to be true. No matter the situation, the community would always come together whenever someone was in need; through countless days in and out of CHEO with chronic migraines as a child, and a diagnosis of Bronchial Asthma on their last posting, Holly had never felt alone, and her desire to give back had grown stronger than ever. With a great sense of pride for her country, and the strong desire to give back to the community, Holly has always strived to make the world a better place.
Once Michele and Holly met, they realized immediately that they were very like-minded. Together, they took action to create the Health & Charity program: a one-stop referral to businesses and events that contribute to our overall physical, financial, and emotional well being, all while giving back to causes and our community. Such a simple solution to donor fatigue, while offering safer products, local services, and income for local businesses. What better way to create a lasting legacy for many amazing causes that will go on for decades beyond our time!
Please take time to connect with us and find out how you can redirect everyday items and services you already use to support this cause. No volunteering or donations required for this part of the program! Same cost, better products and services, helping organizations for a lifetime. It's a win, win, win!