Isla Ransom is turning three and wants all of Kelowna to celebrate the occasion this weekend as it took her, and her parents, a great deal of work to hit this milestone.
While her mother, Karrie Faucher, had a normal pregnancy, Isla arrived with a genetic condition called Edward’s Syndrome, or Trisomy 18, meaning she had a third copy of the genetic material on her 18th chromosome.
Like kids who have Down’s Syndrome, where there’s extra genetic material on the 21st chromosome, Isla’s life is very different from other children her age; but she’s quite the fighter nonetheless.
“I really didn’t have any hope that she was going to make it to her first birthday,” said Faucher. “So when her first birthday was coming up, and so many people had helped us along the way, I just thought we have to do something to really celebrate.”
Faucher had worked at Summerhill Pyramid Winery and called to see if they could accommodate a big event. She knew her family didn’t need a pile of gifts for Isla, so she turned the bash into a fundraiser for Canuck Place.
“At the time, we really hadn’t used Canuck Place that much. We just picked it as a charity because they do such great work,” said Faucher.
In the years since, the Vancouver-based respite facility has been a godsend. Isla has trouble swallowing and respiratory problems, she’s prone to seizures and can easily aspirate on her own fluids. It means that six days a week a nurse must come between the hours of 11 and six p.m., so her parents can sleep through the night without monitoring her care.
“It’s not a lot of sleep, but it’s enough,” said Faucher, who is now on bed-rest as she completes the last trimester of her pregnancy. The workload associated with Isla takes its toll.
But Canuck Place offers this family a chance to get away from it all.
Last summer, they took Isla’s five-year-old brother, Oden, camping—their first family vacation. Isla stayed at Canuck Place, fully cared for for five days, while her parents and older brother enjoyed a normal family holiday.
At other times, the family will use the charity’s Vancouver facility for an overnight stay, while Isla has medical tests done. The event is usually a treat as they can stay, free of charge with their meals paid for, and Isla is looked after when her tests are complete so that the family can get out and enjoy the city.
Canuck Place services families coping with illness and disabilities and, while their main facility is in Vancouver, they also operate satellites around B.C. to provide support for families like Isla’s.
The three-year-old’s first birthday bash raised $5000 for the charity and $8000 on her second birthday—and her mother has really honed her party planning skills in the process. This year, a $30 entry ticket at the door gets those who attend champagne, appetizers, cupcakes and a shot at a string of raffle prizes. A few of the draw’s highlights include a trip to Mexico, a weekend in Vancouver complete with a jazz brunch, a local romance package with a one night stay at the Eldorado Hotel, bottle of sparkling wine and gift certificate to Hanna’s Lounge and Grill.
The event runs this Saturday, April 11 from 1-4 p.m. at Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Tickets are available at the door for $30.