Do something good with us

This time of year is hard.

This time two years ago our lives were completely, wonderfully normal. We had no idea that we were on the brink of our world falling apart. We didn’t know that influenza B was about to find its way into our home and claim one of our children. Quickly, quietly, without warning and without opportunity to fight back.

Just as last year, I’ve found in the last weeks that anxiety and sadness have been creeping in. My chest feels tight and I’m quick to cry. I’m stressed and distracted, and those FB memories that connect me back to the happiest days of my life remind me of how blindsided we were. I wish I could reach back in time and warn us. Don’t send Isla to school – you don’t know it, but everyone in her class has been incredibly sick. Quarantine your children from each other. (Somehow, impossibly, because they’ve always all been obsessed with each other.) Don’t put Jude down for a nap. You don’t know it, because he’s laughing and looks fine, but he’s about to die in his sleep. A virus you can hardly see affecting him is about to stop his heart. Don’t put him down.

I can’t do that. All I can do is keep breathing and put one foot in front of the other until this wave passes again.

Except that’s not quite right. There’s more I can do to get through this part, and just as last year I’ll ask you to join us again as we take this time to put good back in the world. Jude left too early, before he had the opportunity to decide what his life would be and what he would build. Our world was better because he was here, and we are better because of him. We can’t do more for him now that he’s gone, but we can take the part of us that’s better because of him and pay that forward. We’d love to have you join us as we try to leave the world better than we found it.

There is no shortage of worthy organizations that need help, but we’d love to recommend a short list that have been important to us if you’d like to reach out and help someone this week, but don’t already have a cause in mind. Whether you choose one of these or another, or spread some love through any other kind of random act of kindness, we’d love to hear about it. If you’re comfortable, share it on social media with #forjudeforeveryone and #grabyourcape. Life isn’t always kind, but I’ve always felt that we’re strongest when we hold each other up. Let’s do that. Let’s do something good. Sometimes the smallest actions can change someone’s life for the better.

This is our list. You can read through or use the links here to jump down to each section.

1. The Toronto Foundation, Sunnybrook, St. Michael’s, and North York General
2. SickKids Get Better Gifts
3. Ronald McDonald House
4. Canadian Blood Services
5. Organ + Tissue Donation
6. UNICEF Life-Saving Vaccines
7. Toronto Zoo


1. The Toronto Foundation, Sunnybrook, St. Michael’s, and North York General

On Monday, April 23rd, 2018, a man drove his van onto a sidewalk on Yonge Street, hitting as many people as possible. Eight women and two men were killed, and 15 more were injured in the attack.

People love to hate Toronto. I always feel that people who don’t love Toronto haven’t had the opportunity to dig in and get to know the city, because it’s wonderful. It’s a collection of neighbourhoods, each with its own flavour and personality, and there’s something there for everyone. I remember my initial apprehension about moving to Toronto years ago, and how quickly I fell head over heels for it. We live just west of the city now, but so many important parts of our life happened there, and it’s still a huge part of us. We’re in Mississauga, but a piece of our hearts will always be in Toronto.

Our city is hurting after a senseless attack that destroyed lives. The survivors and the loved ones of the victims are going to need support. In the days after we lost Jude people came together to collect funds to relieve the financial burden of an unexpected funeral, as well as the other expenses that are hard to anticipate at a time like this.

The Toronto Foundation is raising money now to help the city and the victims in three ways:

The #TorontoStrong Fund will identify organizations and agencies to benefit from these donations in a coordinated, accountable manner. This will happen in a strategic, pronged approach to address the tragedy from multiple sides. The first will be to provide crisis support, through Victim Services. They provide emotional support and practical assistance to cover the cost of some emergency expenses like covering funeral costs, body repatriation, trauma counselling, hotels for family, and child care. The second prong will identify organizations that are engaged in the ripple effect and aftermath of the attack. Through the third prong, we will engage charities who work on the related social issues, their interconnections, and can play a role in prevention. We will provide public updates as events evolve and as needs arise.

This is the second time in weeks that Canada’s been reeling from tragedy. It was incredible to see the way everyone rallied for Humboldt, and I know that love and support is there for Toronto, too.

Another way to help in the wake of the attack is to support Toronto’s hospitals. Sunnybrook has a special place in our hearts. All of our children were born there, and their team also helped us get through a devastating second trimester loss. The care they provide to patients in trauma, pregnancy, cancer, and many other needs is exceptional. Read Kelly Grant’s piece about how Sunnybrook reacted the day of the attack, and know that St. Michael’s and North York General also received patients and victims that day. While these three hospitals were most directly involved, other area hospitals also played a part that day in managing care of all cases throughout the city. Give to any of them, or give to your local hospital. The work they do is vital.

2. SickKids Get Better Gifts

 

I love this one and I return to it over and over. It feels especially appropriate at this time of year, with Mother’s Day just around the corner. Two years ago Jude died the Friday before Mother’s Day, and I can’t tell you how badly I wish I could have just one more new memory with him. It would never be enough, but it would be everything. I love the SickKids Get Better Gifts. Throughout the year they’ll recommend different gifts for different occasions, but they also have a full list for you to go through, for anything that might make your heart happy. There’s something for any budget, whether you want to give a kid a break from the hospital with their mom, craft supplies and games, or give to medical supplies or research. It’s all there. Your $20 gift can bring a big smile to someone who’s having a hard time, and when we’re talking about kids in the hospital, that’s pretty amazing.

3. Ronald McDonald House

When you’re sick you want someone who loves you with you. This is true for adults, but it’s especially true for young ones who need to go to a hospital that’s far away from their home. Ronald McDonald House provides a place to stay for families while their children are receiving care.

Wednesday, May 2nd is McHappy Day, and with the purchase of every Happy Meal, Big Mac, and hot McCafé beverage $1 will be donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities. Can’t make it to McDonald’s on Wednesday? No problem. You can donate any time to RMHC with this link. Help keep families together while they’re facing medical challenges.

4. Canadian Blood Services

People often wonder how they’d act if they were in a position to save someone’s life. I have great news – it’s easier than you think. All you have to do is roll up your sleeve and give blood. It won’t cost you a dime and they’ll give you juice and cookies when you’re done. Not enough of us are currently giving and we’ve been running at a critical low in Canada. you’re never too late to start giving. Wondering if you’re eligible? Check here, then book an appointment. Please note that if you were ineligible at some point in the past you may now be able to give as some rules have changed. Take a look!

American? This is your link!

5. Organ + Tissue Donation

A few weeks ago Logan Boulet helped us have a conversation that we’ve been long overdue to have. At 21 he registered to become an organ donor. After the Humboldt Broncos bus crash they were able to donate his organs to six other patients. Lives were saved because of his selfless choice.

We can’t take them with us. We have no use for them after we’ve died, but someone who’s still here might live because we’ve taken action to register to donate. We don’t have a national registry, but this link will connect you to your province or territory’s registry. I have friends who are alive today because they received organs. Leave the world better than you found it. On your way out, give someone else a second chance at life. After you’ve done that, have a conversation with your loved ones to make sure they know your intentions. Registering is quick. If you aren’t sure of your status as a donor, check online and make sure you’ve done what you need to.

6. UNICEF Life-Saving Vaccines

‘About 1.5 million of the children who will die next year will die from diseases that we can prevent with vaccines. ‘ – Melinda Gates

Last September we saw The Gates Foundation come together with world leaders and innovators to give us a report card on health. They touched on a wide range of topics and I wrote about their observations and work on child mortality. If you have a few minutes I encourage you to take a look at the post, and if you have a little more time check out the Goalkeepers data report.

Our old favourite ‘Super Hero Pack’ isn’t available anymore, but we love the available options to provide life-saving vaccines to children. You could protect 50 children from the measles, 100 from polio, or 500 from tetanus. You could provide treatment for children with malaria, or a vaccine carrier to keep the vaccines effective until they’re delivered to their destination. All of these options are surprisingly affordable and a reminder that no one is getting rich off vaccines.

In 2016 Jude was one of five million. There are five million stories just from that year that are just as sad and awful as ours, and approximately 1.5 million of them from vaccine preventable diseases. Let’s do better. Let’s contribute to public health and prevent children from contracting these illnesses in the first place.

7. Toronto Zoo

Thomas with Jude’s penguin, Everest, visiting his favourites for him

Our tiny lion with the big heart and the love for penguins. He loved the zoo, and we loved taking him there. The Toronto Zoo does a lot of fantastic conservation work, and your support can help them protect these beautiful animals. Adopt your favourite animal, or borrow one of Jude’s, and then go say hi for him. He would love that. ♥

 


 

Jude’s not here. We’ll never know where he would have put his efforts, who he would have wanted to help, what difference he would have made. But we know that our loving, caring, hilarious little boy would have had a huge impact however he would have chosen to. We’re still here, even though some days it feels too heavy to still be walking around when your child is gone. In whatever time is still ahead of us, we’ll do what we can to leave the world a little better than we found it. For Jude, for everyone. We’d love for you to join us and make a difference in whatever way speaks to you. We are strongest when we hold each other up, so we’re going to keep doing that. This week is going to be hard, but together we can make life a little easier for someone else out there, bring someone a smile, make someone’s dream come true, save someone’s life, be someone’s hero.

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