From the moment Amelia entered the world, it’s felt like the odds have been stacked against her. Four months before she was born, a routine ultrasound revealed that she had a rare spinal defect called spina bifida.
“I had never even heard of the condition before,” recalled her mom, Kelly. “It was all very overwhelming.”
Spina bifida occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly in the womb. In the most severe cases, it can cause debilitating complications, such as paralysis in the lower body and fluid build-up in the brain. Amelia had frequent appointments at BC Children’s Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre to overcome her health challenges – including with the orthopedic, urology, neurology and physiotherapy teams.
When she was just six months old, the movement in Amelia’s legs had decreased. Not long after, she underwent a major 13-hour surgery on her spinal cord. “It was a horrifying experience for us as parents,” Kelly recalled, “but the nurses and doctors were incredible.”
Right before her third birthday, Amelia needed another serious operation – this time, on her hips. After recovering in a full-body cast, she received a specialized wheelchair on loan from Sunny Hill. Reflecting on their journey so far, Kelly is grateful that her daughter, who is now 5, has the chance to just be a kid.
“She’s playing with other kids, chasing them, and playing tag because of the wheelchair and specialized care she received,” Kelly added.
Small steps make mighty strides
To help others who count on BC Children’s Hospital, the family is taking part in the RBC Race for the Kids on Sunday, June 11, 2023. More than a family fun run, the event brings together kids and families of all abilities to celebrate the resilience of children – who, like Amelia, persevere despite the enormous health obstacles they face.
Since it started in 1986, the event has raised funds that have helped to fast-track breakthroughs and unleash major advances in childhood illnesses. Thanks to the generosity of supporters, children’s health care is now on the verge of new possibilities – from precision medicine that tailors cancer treatment to each child, to mental health care that reaches more youth in their communities. Pushing these advances over the finish line will require the support of the province.
When participating in RBC Race for the Kids, British Columbians have several options. They can join the 2 km or 5 km fun run at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, the 2 km or 4 km distance at Tillicum Centre in Victoria, or race in their own communities.
“At Race for the Kids, it’s so clear that people really care about kids and families that are struggling,” says Kelly. “It brings Amelia so much joy to be a part of this event.”
Be part of something big
Join thousands of runners by signing up for RBC Race for the Kids at raceforthekidsbc.ca. Be sure to register before the early bird deadline on April 20 to secure your spot.