Eight-year-old Grace Teboekhorst’s long road to recovery has made her a champion in the eyes of her parents, Dennis and Melissa.
After Grace was diagnosed with a rare disease when she was three, her kidneys were damaged, leaving the Maple Ridge resident fighting for her life.
Her father, Dennis, was eventually approved as her donor, and in August 2010, Grace received a new kidney after surgery at B.C. Children’s Hospital.
Now Grace and her family’s fight is being recognized as the eight-year-old has been named the 2013-14 Champion Child, presented by a Children’s Miracle Network program that honours children who overcome severe medical challenges.
Grace’s mother said her family was overwhelmed when they found out the news.
“We really do live day-to-day and we’re thankful that someone else has recognized us,” said Melissa, who home schools Grace because she still battles immune deficiencies. “We’re very grateful.”
Grace continues her post-transplant care at B.C. Children’s Hospital. However, she will eventually need another kidney transplant. For now, her family is focusing on acting as ambassadors for B.C. Children’s Hospital.
Melissa said the one of the most important factors in Grace’s recovery was the care they received at B.C. Children’s Hospitals. She said being able to remain close to home helped both during treatment and recovery periods.
It was a very emotional, intense, and long recovery,” said Melissa. “The ability for Grace to receive treatment in our home province, so close to home, was crucial for us. If we had to leave the province for treatment would have be extremely difficult and really tears at the fabric of the family and makes it difficult to cope.”
As B.C.’s representative in the Champions program, Grace, along with her parents and younger brother Calym, will travel with 11 other Canadian Champion children in Toronto. The group will then head to Orlando, Florida, to join the 50 American Champion children and their families at the Children’s Miracle Network annual event.
Melissa said because of Grace’s illness, the family hasn’t been able to travel.
“The kids don’t want to start a countdown too soon, they’re going to wait until a week out.”
Children’s Miracle Network is a not-for-profit organization that helps kids by raising funds for 170 children’s hospitals across North America. In Canada, Children’s Miracle Network raises funds for 14 children’s hospitals, and has raised more than $200 million since its inception.