Big brother Michael

Friends help Gabrielle give back

A South Surrey fundraiser inspired by a terminally ill White Rock child is hoped to raise at least $2,000 for Canuck Place.

A South Surrey fundraiser to benefit a Vancouver children’s hospice is hoped to raise at least $2,000.

Inspired by a White Rock family dealing with the reality that their youngest child is terminally ill, Saturday’s Moms Night Out event at Creative Kids Learning Centre will feature a raffle, desserts, beverages and 12 vendors offering up early Christmas-shopping suggestions.

All of the proceeds, along with any donations, will be hand-delivered to Canuck Place – a facility dedicated to the comfort and support of children living with a life-threatening illness.

“No one ever wants to be in Canuck Place, because the criteria for being there is to be a child who’s not expected to make it out of childhood,” said Regan Ross.

Regan and his wife, Amy, know the reality of that firsthand. Last year, shortly after the birth of their daughter, Gabrielle, they learned their time with her would be all-too short.

Born with a rare and incurable genetic disorder known as Inclusion-cell (I-cell) disease – in which lysosomes within Gabrielle’s cells aren’t properly storing waste – Gabrielle “can’t grow,” Regan explained.

In the year since her birth, her weight has barely doubled. She will likely never walk. And her family is grateful for every moment they have with her.

Diagnosed shortly after her birth, it has been a difficult reality to accept, Regan said.

“You’re raising a little girl that you know never really had a chance at a normal life,” he said. “It comes with challenging and wonderful joys, amazing peaks and very low valleys.”

Amy Ross said she knew something wasn’t right 38 weeks into her pregnancy.

It wasn’t anything she could pinpoint – call it a mother’s intuition – but she made her doctor investigate, just in case.

An exam determined the baby wasn’t thriving, and an emergency C-section was ordered.

Gabrielle was born Oct. 13, 2010, a sister to the Rosses’ two boys, Michael and James.

They’ve become most familiar with Canuck Place since July, after Gabrielle underwent a stem-cell transplant the preceding March. The procedure was hoped to stimulate some cells that would store waste properly and improve the quality of Gabrielle’s life.

The hospice – which offers families like the Rosses respite, emergency and end-of-life services – became their refuge, a place they can go for a full night’s sleep, help with Gabrielle’s care and family time.

“They’re unbelievable. It gives us time to spend with each other,” Amy said, noting the facility relies largely on donations to operate. “They’ve just helped us so much, and many other families. You really feel like you’re going to a home when you go there.”

Regan said the journey with Gabrielle has taught him and Amy a lot, much of which they’re sharing on a blog (babyross.blogspot.com) that started as a one-off way of sharing a video of their newborn. It’s grown into a therapeutic scrapbook of thoughts, photographs, videos and more.

“We’ve always said we would never change this in for anything,” Regan said.

“The Buddhists believe the children pick their parents. We feel very blessed and fortunate that little Gabrielle chose us.”

Creative Kids’ owner Sandra Christian said that in addition to raising funds, Saturday’s event is to let the family know “we are here for them as a community and a school that cares about them very much through this difficult period in their lives.”

The fundraiser is set for 6-10 p.m. Saturday at Creative Kids in Rosemary Heights, 15350 34 Ave. Attendees are asked to RSVP to 604-560-5202 or rosemary@creativekidspreschool.ca

 

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