Whatever Takes You Far From Home, You Are Not Alone

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Originally published by the Comox Valley Record, April 4, 2022

Andrea Rose, Special to The Record

Jason and Haley Lutter and their son Henrik – who goes by ‘Henry’ – were introduced to YANA during an appointment at their accountant’s office. In an off-topic conversation about a torticollis diagnosis Henry was given at just a few weeks old, Jason’s accountant, who was familiar with YANA’s programs, suggested they reach out for the upcoming trips the family would be making to Victoria in the coming months, part of the therapy to treat Henry’s condition.

Torticollis is a postural issue where the muscle on one side of the neck is shorter than on the other side, causing a variety of physical challenges and often requiring physiotherapy and intervention to ensure it’s corrected early. Along with regular physiotherapy appointments locally for nearly two years, the family was also required to make multiple trips to Victoria for a special helmet therapy.

“When (Henry) was first diagnosed I don’t think we understood fully what it might entail,” said Haley. “I think, in my mind, it was going to be a couple month thing and it would be resolved…he had some gross motor delays, and as well as why we ended up needing to access YANA was for the helmet therapy.”

Henry is the couple’s first child, and along with learning and adapting to the overwhelming newness of parenthood, they were also learning how to support Henry’s condition, managing multiple appointments, doctors, and eventually, overnight trips down-Island. After a short visit to the office for a simple intake, YANA quickly stepped in to help by taking care of many of the details and allowing them to focus on their child.

“The financial support was obviously huge, but for me, (it was) just having other people we could talk to and logistically make plans where we could stay,” said Jason. “I was really appreciative of YANA for making the actual bookings and scheduling that part out. That took a huge weight off our shoulders so that we could actually focus on preparing for the physio.”

Haley agreed with Jason, explaining that it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“When you’re dealing with all other stresses… anything that can be taken off your plate is a really big deal. I was on maternity leave at the time and Jason was changing careers at the time, so it kind of came at a time of more financial stress for us too.

Haley said at first, she felt like they might not qualify for support.

“When Laura first said YANA, I thought, ‘no, no, that’s not for us, that’s for families with extreme financial need.’ I think it is nice that it’s for everyone in the community, it’s all inclusive. It’s awesome that it’s mostly community members supporting their own community, it’s really special.”

Access to YANA’s support is a low-barrier process for any family required to leave the community to access medical care for a child or pregnant mother.

For Jason and Haley, this meant the organization took care of arranging accommodations for each trip they made to Victoria, as well as providing funding to help alleviate some of the costs of traveling and being away from home.

“It was amazing how easy it was. We just told them when we were going to be down there and they just booked it for us,” Jason explains, suggesting that YANA, which stands for “You Are Not Alone,” couldn’t be a more fitting name for the organization that not only relieved some of the logistical stress for them, but also provided them with a sense of community and support.

“It is a good title for the organization. It does make you feel like you’re not alone, there’s people you can reach out to for assistance. It made us feel like we were not alone.”

Henry doesn’t have to make any more trips to Victoria, and he’s nearing the end of his physiotherapy sessions locally. YANA was there for Henry and his family during the months they needed to travel for his medical care, providing them with a sense of comfort from their community that no matter how short or long the road, they didn’t have to walk it alone.

For more information and to find out where you can purchase your Valley Vonka chocolate bars, for a chance to win a golden ticket and the gift of support for YANA families, visit: https://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/community/comox-valley-record-launches-valley-vonka/