Ready to Ride!!

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The 2023 Comox Bike Co YANA Ride brings all ages, abilities and disciplines of riders together in one massive community-wide event.

Registration opens June 1 and is entirely by tax-receiptable donation.  

Register and ride with your favourite biking buddies, raise funds by gathering pledges, and reunite at the annual Party in the Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023 at Marina Park in Comox!  Riders, family and friends will arrive at the Party in the Park between 11:00am-2:00pm, and entertainment, activities, treats, raffle, a beer garden, prize draws and more will continue through to 4:00pm.

Will you ride on August 20th? Or sometime between the 1st to the 20th?  Will you be tracking distance, time or elevation? Will you tally your trips around the block, or your daily commutes to work?  Whatever ride you choose to dedicate to YANA, you’ll be doing your part to raise funds for Comox Valley families who need to travel for the medical care of their child or a pregnant mother.  

Remember, this event is ALL about flexibility!

Ride WHERE you like, WHAT you like, and HOWEVER it suits you to show your support for YANA! 

  • Where: Hit the trails, cycle the city streets, or ride laps around the neighbourhood. Chart the route that works for you, and just make sure to join us at the finish line on August 20th!
  • What: Ride whatever you like. If it’s powered by you and it has wheels, it’s a fit for this ride! Gravel bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, even training-wheels and trikes, are welcome to participate in this event.
  • How: Challenge yourself or set a goal and raise pledges while you do! Whether it’s a team challenge, a climb the height of a mountain challenge, or a ride-a-little-bit-every-day challenge, do what motivates and inspires you to ride for YANA families.

For more details and information on this year’s ride visit:

Valley Vonka Golden Ticket winners claim their prizes!

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Thank you, thank you, thank YOU! Major heartfelt gratitude to some amazing champions in our community – CV Record, Hot Chocolates, and Parker Appliances. Your contributions have been instrumental in making this Valley Vonka fundraiser a huge success year after year, and we are honored to have you as part of the YANA family!

With an amazing grand total of $18,500 who wouldn’t jump for joy!! Your support enables us to provide financial assistance and accommodation to families in our community who need it most.

Comox Valley family has a ‘Long-time’ relationship with YANA

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Originally published by the Comox Valley Record, April 3, 2023

Jasper Myers – Special to the Record

YANA has been a part of the Long family since their youngest daughter, Penny, was born in 2021 and immediately airlifted to Victoria General Hospital where they spent four months.

Her mother, Sophia Long, said Penny was struggling to breathe right after she was born.

“She was born with a, surprise to us, genetic condition,” said Long. “She struggled to breathe and she had some physical dysmorphic features… the respiratory thing was the big problem that brought us to Victoria and kept us there. She actually ended up having a tracheostomy placed when she was five weeks old, and she still has the trach today.”

YANA supported the Long family throughout those first four months, providing them with a daily allowance and accommodation the entire time. To this day, Long said they regularly have to leave the Comox Valley to get medical care for Penny. And every time they leave, YANA is right there to support them.

“Whenever she gets a cold, it’s like a really big ordeal,” Sophia said. “She ends up needing more support than we can give her at home, so we end up in the hospital either at Children’s or Victoria General because of the trach. The trach doesn’t allow her to be admitted in any other pediatric unit in the province other than the pediatric ICU in Victoria or Vancouver.”

Long said they will usually start with a visit to the emergency room, which usually leads to being sent out of town.

“As soon as we are in the ER, we’re either given an envelope of money or we check in with whoever, usually Kourtney [Van Velzen], and they get us set up with funding and accommodation,” she said. “It just takes this huge weight off of our chest when we’re in these crisis modes.”

Regardless of time of day, Long said YANA is available to them and gets back to anyone in need as quickly as possible.

“I don’t know if they answer in the middle of the night, but they are there pretty early in the morning,” she said. “The nurses in the ER and in maternity and I think maybe peds (pediatrics) as well, they have the ability to just give you an envelope of cash from YANA, and then they get you to sign this paperwork, and then that gets kind of the ball rolling.”

In the Longs’ case, when Penny was airlifted after birth, Sophia and her husband started driving down to Victoria and YANA called them before they had a chance to reach out themselves.

“They called and checked in with us, and were like, ‘we have a room for you, a hotel room,’” said Sophia. “We could just basically drive up and check in. And it was already taken care of, which was amazing.”

Sophia said YANA is a huge part of their life. She said YANA always has their back and provides more than just financial assistance.

“We have Kourtney’s cell phone number. And I just text her and I’m like, ‘okay, we’re in the ER again,’” said Sophia. “And they just always offer us support emotionally. ‘Are you okay? Is everything okay? Is there anything we can do to help?’”

She said YANA even helps out with the cost of travel for the ferry or when she or her husband have to drive down to Victoria, which she said takes the pressure off of them and allows them to focus on Penny.

“I just feel like we’re super fortunate that we had this child in this Comox Valley because I know there are other communities that don’t have the same kind of support, and it’s a huge thing,” Long said.

YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a not-for-profit organization in the Comox Valley that helps families who need to travel for medical treatment for their children or a pregnant mother.

Comox Valley family receives YANA support during week in Nanaimo

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Originally published by the Comox Valley Record, March 27, 2023

Jasper Myers – Special to the Record

Alex Maertz, like any parent, first thought her daughter Ren’s cold was just that – a cold. She had no idea she and her daughter would end up spending almost a week in hospital in Nanaimo.

“We thought it was just a cold that her older brother passed down to her, but she was showing some more severe signs,” said Maertz. “So we went to our family doctor and she’s like, ‘Just to be safe, I’m going to recommend going to the ER because they can do a scan and do a better assessment.’”

So Maertz took her daughter to the Comox Valley Hospital on March 7, and said they got in quickly. Once in she said they did an X-ray of Ren’s chest and detected fluid in her lungs. Ren had pneumonia.

“So they don’t have a pediatric doctor on staff in the Comox Valley, so they are like, ‘Well, we’re going to transfer you in an ambulance to Nanaimo’,” she said. “It kind of just gradually started escalating and I was like, ‘Well, I guess this is much more serious than I thought’.”

Maertz said they got to the hospital around 5 p.m. and were immediately met with nurses who she said made one of the scariest times a little better.

“A swarm of amazing pediatric nurses came and just made us feel super welcome and wonderful… and really reassuring and just took such good care of us,” Maertz said.

The nurses, Maertz said, got to work on helping her daughter immediately, which she said is when it really started to sink in that this was serious.

“Because she was so congested she hadn’t really been eating that day at all and so they put an NG (nasogastric) tube into her nose and then into her tummy so that she could get some food and fluids in her so she didn’t get more dehydrated than she was,” said Maertz. “They put a little oxygen mask near her to just get her numbers up closer to 100 because she dropped pretty low into the 70s and low 80s when she was really struggling to breathe.”

Maertz had been messaging a friend about what was going on, and the next day she said that friend told her about YANA.

“She’s been in the hospital a few times with her kids and recommended I contact YANA and in the moment I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I forgot about YANA’,” she said. “I designed one of their shirts a couple of years ago for the big bike ride, so I had a connection to them already, and in the moment I just wasn’t thinking about anything except for Ren, just kind of focusing on her.”

The next morning Maertz called Kourtney Van Velzen, and said Kourtney was on top of everything and sent an email with details of everything YANA was going to provide to them during their stay at the hospital.

“They made it so easy and they’re just so incredible,” Maertz said. “I’m very grateful for the community we live in and the organization that helps get all those donations so that families in the Comox Valley can stick together.”

During that initial phone call Maertz said she was asked for her email so YANA could send her an e-transfer to start and help out. She said throughout the week they followed up with her to assure her that if the hospital stay became longer, YANA would be there to continue supporting them.

Alex and Ren finally left the hospital and returned home March 11, and she said YANA made that week away so much better for her entire family.

Maertz said she had never spent more than a night away from her husband and son, and her husband had to take the week off work.

“It was just amazing, they allowed for my husband and son to be able to come down more than once because it’s about $50 each time with gas prices these days, it just allowed us a little bit more freedom with visits, which was amazing,” said Maertz. “It was pretty wonderful what they’ve done.”

YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a not-for-profit organization in the Comox Valley that helps families who need to travel for medical treatment for their children or a pregnant mother.

Comox Valley family dealing with preterm baby receives ‘unexpected gift’ from YANA

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Originally published by the Comox Valley Record, March 21, 2023

Jasper Myers – Special to the Record

When Danielle and Gibson Roth welcomed their second premature baby in January, they knew what it entailed, but they were not expecting what happened next.

Right there in the delivery room, Danielle was resting after just giving birth to their daughter, and Gibson was approached by a nurse who first introduced the family to YANA.

“When Eleanor was born, a nurse came up to me and gave me, like, $200 cash. And I’m like, I don’t know what that’s all about,” said Gibson Roth. “And they’re like ‘Oh, that’s YANA.’ And they explained to me kind of the situation.”

Roth said he first tried to refuse the money, insisting the family wasn’t in need and didn’t want to take it away from someone else who may need it. However, he said the staff at the hospital explained that the services YANA provides are for everyone and insisted he call as soon as possible. Danielle said multiple people at the hospital checked in to make sure they knew about YANA.

“We had multiple people at the hospital make sure we got in touch with them [YANA] and double-check that we’d gotten the money and that we knew about their services,” said Danielle. “So the hospital staff were really great about that too.”

Their daughter, Eleanor, was due March 6 but was born January 19, at 33 weeks and two days (seven weeks early). Eleanor had to be taken to Victoria since she needed to be intubated and hooked up to an IV and the Comox Valley doesn’t have the NICU services to care for an infant born that early. So, as Danielle and Eleanor took off via helicopter for Victoria, Gibson followed the instructions from the nurse and called YANA.

“I called Kourtney, and it was amazing,” said Gibson. “We got a hold of Kourtney before we even got down there. And before I got to Victoria, my hotel was booked. She had sent me an allowance for travel expenses. I can’t describe to you the burden that took off of us, and it just allowed us to focus on Eleanor.”

Danielle and Gibson Roth previously lived in Campbell River where they welcomed their first-born, Norris. At that time YANA wasn’t available to them, and Gibson said they spent about $3,500 in savings during their time in Victoria with their son.

“The cost we incurred to him were quite a bit the same scenario,” said Danielle. “It’s last minute and you’re trying to find a place to stay and you’re out of town.”

This time around Gibson said YANA made a big difference.

“It was just so much less stressful because YANA kind of came in and helped us with that,” he said.

The Roths spent a month away from home, with two weeks in Victoria and two weeks in Nanaimo. YANA supported them the entire time, covering accommodations for them their entire time away.

“The two weeks we were in Nanaimo… YANA stepped in, and covered the hotel the entire time that we were down there,” he said. “We probably wouldn’t have been able to stay in a hotel for that long. We would have had to figure out family arrangements or whatever it was, but again, it just freed us up to focus on our kids and not have a whole bunch of distractions that we would have if our kids are born anywhere else.”

The first time around, Danielle said they stayed at Jeneece Place, but this time they were full. She said having YANA step in and help out was “amazing.” She said she didn’t know YANA even existed until the nurse handed them the cash in the hospital right after she’d given birth.

“It does just extrapolate such a blessing because you can’t be prepared to have a premature kid,” said Danielle.

“We don’t have a budget or a bag packed or anything ready to go. I mean our savings account would probably have been drained. Having her out of town without their ability to support us, give us hotels and travel expenses and meal allowance.”

Danielle and Gibson said YANA constantly checked in with them to see how they were doing and see what they needed.

“Kourtney specifically was amazing,” said Gibson. “By the end of it all, she just felt like extended family. She just checked in, asked for pictures, asked for updates, and yeah, just super involved. That’s best thing that ever could happen.”

Now the family is back in the Comox Valley and Gibson said everything is great.

“We’re home now, and Eleanor is healthy and happy, and we’re just getting used to a new routine,” said Roth.

YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a not-for-profit organization in the Comox Valley that helps families who need to travel for medical treatment for their children or a pregnant mother.

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