While expecting a first child is usually an exciting time in any couple’s life, for Lydia and Jun Kang of Pitt Meadows, that excitement turned to fear when their daughter Julia was born five weeks premature by emergency C-section.
Doctors soon discovered Julia was bleeding in her brain, an extremely rare condition with no cure.
“After they told us the heart breaking news, they asked if we had any questions. All I wanted to know was: will she ever go to school? Will she have any friends?” says Lydia. “The doctors said that they didn’t want to look ahead that far. They really didn’t know.”
As a result of her condition, Julia suffers from seizures, is blind, and did not start walking until she was three years old.
Trapped in her own world, Julia was at first resistant to the therapy that was offered by specialists.
“It was just so hard,” says Lydia. “You are in denial, and you’re angry. You have your child’s life planned out. Disability is not something you plan for.”
However, at three years old, Julia began to make progress.
With the help of Variety – The Children’s Charity, which paid for expensive orthotics, Julia was finally able to stand for the first time on her own at the age of three and a half.
Later, when she learned how to ride a bike, Variety covered the cost of articulated orthotics that allowed her to pedal.
Initially shy of asking for help, Lydia says she is so thankful for the support her family received.
“I grew up in a culture that believed in not asking for help – no matter how hard your life gets,” she says. “But the staff at Variety showed so much compassion. All they ever asked was, ‘How can we help?’”
The more the family got to know Variety, the more they looked for opportunities to give back. Julia is one of the 13 kids participating in the Variety Kids Coin Drive running from now until Oct. 31.
Variety’s iconic coin boxes will be on display at IGA stores, Marketplace IGA locations and Bank of Montreal branches across the province as part of the campaign.
This year marks the 10th year Variety has held its Coin Drive, which has become one of their most successful fundraisers, bringing in more than $1.5 million since its inception.
Proceeds from the Coin Drive will go towards helping children like Julia who have special needs and their families with grants for things like emergency transportation costs to out-of-community hospitals, expensive medications, mobility and communication devices, and therapeutic programs to give them the same chances in life as other children.
Despite the various physical challenges she faces every day, Julia, now nine years old, is able to wheel herself around in her wheelchair, can walk short distances with a walker, enjoys therapeutic horseback riding, and takes singing lessons.
“When her doctor saw her sing she cried,” says Lydia. “She never imagined Julia would be able to sing.”