Brody Holmes of Shearstown never imagined he would be spending his seventh birthday at the Janeway Childrens Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John’s.
It was two weeks before the big day, on April 21, when the unthinkable happened.
Brody was in a tragic car accident that took the life of his grandfather and left him and his mother Amanda with serious injuries.
It was months before Brody stopped using the wheelchair and began using a walker. But he was driven and determined. Before long, he was back on his two feet again, playing and walking around.
Amanda’s injuries were also severe, leaving her with limited mobility in her wrist.
Both have been living in Sunnyside with Amanda’s mother while recovering. But for months, home was the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in St. John’s, across the street from the Janeway.
“RMH became a huge part of our life once we both spent over 50 nights there ourselves,” Amanda told The Compass last week.
Brody, who has a reputation in his community for being compassionate, has always been involved with fundraising for different causes. His biggest one before the accident was as an Earth Ranger saving the polar bears.
After the family’s stay at RMH, Brody wanted to give back to them.
“It wasn’t until he was in hospital that he asked, ‘Mom, I really want to do something to help Ronald McDonald House,’” Amanda recalled. “Although he was thinking along lines of bingo, since him and nanny loves a game of bingo.”
The family shifted into gear and started selling raffle tickets on a quilt, just in time for Christmas. There were 1,500 tickets printed.
Ornaments and Christmas Cards were the next on the list. At the Sunnyside and Come by Chance Lions Clubs craft fairs, Brody sold these items and tickets on the quilt.
“Once there we had people who were so glad to have visited our table, and Lions Club members asking about Ronald McDonald House and what they may do for a fundraiser to help support it,” Amanda explained.
To Brody, every dollar counts.
Big community support
Although Amanda and Brody are from Bay Roberts, people in Sunnyside and Come by Chance have been huge supporters to the cause.
A Facebook group called “Brody’s home away from home – Ronald McDonald House fundraisers” was created. Amanda’s coworkers, family friends and family members were all added to the group.
Photos from the Holmes’ stay at RMH were also uploaded for people to see what happens there.
“The best part of staying there is the welcome feeling you get from staff, volunteers and other families staying there,” Amanda said. “Each person has a story and situation, but it brings everyone together when you’re in a situation of stress, worried and in need of prayers or just a listening ear.”
RMH provides home cooked meals, baking, toiletries and other amenities. This allows families of children staying at the Janeway or having treatment there to be close by.
“They have so many activities for kids and everything you can think of, it’s there,” Amanda continued. “It’s nice to pop some popcorn and make a strawberry milkshake and watch a movie in the movie room.”
And the costs typically associated with staying in St. John’s on your own dime are not a worry. It costs $15 a night per family.
“This site has been a home away from home and it’s made affordable for those who have to travel from one side of the province to the other.”
The St. John’s RMH has 15 family suites and serves more than 500 families per year. Visitors must live a minimum of 80 kilometres outside St. John’s. Brody and Amanda made that cut off.
Amanda and Brody have nothing but the upmost respect for those that work and volunteer at the RMH, but also at the Janeway. And Brody’s ability to take part in events at school keeps his spirits up.
“I’m thankful Brody received hydro-physiotherapy and still is going on a regular basis,” Amanda said. “And we’re thankful for the process and the routine of daily school activities.”
Although Brody is in school and participating in regular activities, he has not lost his drive to help. And by raising money, he hopes to show how thankful he is for everything RMH did for him and his mom. They are also thinking about the friends they made, including one family there with their baby for three months.
“Thank you to everyone that has been supporting on Brody’s goal to sell his tickets and supporting a very important house to everyone enters it. You have no idea how important it is until you have to be there yourself.”
To support Brody in his fundraiser, contact Amanda through the Facebook group or at 683-2353.