News

YANA is generously upheld by the spirit and kindness of the Comox Valley. Check out what is going on and learn about amazing supportive efforts taking place within our community. We respect the privacy of our individual donors, as such this is a sampling of donations where public acknowledgement is appropriate.

Bringing the party to the park

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Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride is a day away and 600 cyclists will be riding in this annual event to raise funds for YANA. Starting and ending in Marina Park, Comox, the ride is a celebration of community support for Comox Valley families.

Russ and Lori Ball of Audio Xcellence DJ Services are in the celebration business. After 23 years in the DJ business they count the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride as a favourite.

“We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on this day,” says Russ. “We’re long time YANA supporters and are happy to spend the day adding to the energy of the event.”

The upbeat soundtrack livens up the morning as cyclists leave the park and keeps the fun spirit going, all day.

“It really keeps the atmosphere of the event vibrant,” says YANA Community Relations Coordinator, Ocean Varney.

Volunteering their time is part of what Russ and Lori say is a priority for them, personally and in business.

“We love seeing all the families with their kids and their bikes, we wouldn’t miss it,” states Russ.

Best of all, they take requests!

August 18 is last day to register

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Boomer Jerritt Photography

The Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride registration site will be open until 11:59pm Friday, August 18th OR until such time as 600 cyclists have registered. No registration will be accepted on ride day. Route changes can be accommodated at the check-in area, but pay close attention to the event schedule as different routes leave at different times (below).

To register or pledge a rider, click here.

Event Schedule

100km Ride:

Check-in 8:00 – 8:30 am, Ride Briefing 8:40 am, Ride starts 9:00 am

50km Ride:

Check-in 9:00 – 9:30 am, Ride Briefing 9:40 am, Ride starts 10:00 am

25km Ride:

Check-in 10:00 – 10:30 am, Ride Briefing 10:40 am, Ride starts 11:00 am

Family Ride:

Check-in 10:30 – 11:00 am, Ride Briefing 11:10 am, Ride starts 11:30 am

Lunch

Starts 12:00 pm

Live Music: Jilli Martini

12:45 – 1:30 pm

Run Bike Event (4 and under)

Check-in and decorating ride bibs 1:00 – 1:20 pm, Ride Briefing 1:20 pm, Ride starts 1:30 pm

Draw Prizes

From 12:30 pm, Air Canada Foundation Fundraising Prize & Simon’s Cycles Grand Prize at 1:45 pm

Live Music: Jilli Martini

2:10 – 2:40 pm

Viponds dedicate their YANA ride to Natasha

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By Spencer Anderson

It’s a community event that a little girl with a new tricycle would have loved to be a part of.

Instead, the family of Natasha Vipond will ride in the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride fundraiser on August 20 in her memory.

Natasha died of Heart Failure and Pulmonary Hypertension in hospital on July 16, 2015 following a heart transplant. She was 18 months old and left behind parents Vanessa and Les, and her older brother Ben, now age eight.

Natasha’s death followed over a year of exhausting hospital stays, medical appointments and travel out of town for the family.

That’s when YANA stepped in. The Comox Valley-based non-profit has, since 1986, offered financial assistance and accommodation to families whose children require out-of-town medical care. YANA also keeps four apartments close to BC Children’s Hospital for families like the Viponds.

“If it wasn’t for them, it would have been even more stressful,” Vanessa Vipond says.

Natasha was born in January 2014 following a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy. By all signs, she was a healthy baby girl.

But by the time she was four months old, she wasn’t gaining weight properly. A follow-up appointment with a pediatrician led to the discovery that she had an irregular heartbeat.

The family was sent to Victoria for testing, expecting an echocardiogram would resolve any concerns. Instead, the cardiologist invited Natasha’s parents into his office and said: “We need to talk.”

It turned out that Natasha had a condition called Left Ventricular Non-Compaction Cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart defect that prevents the heart from pumping efficiently. She would need a transplant to survive.

The family had expected to leave Victoria and go home the next morning. They ended up staying for a month.

“I remember sitting in that waiting room seeing all of the sick kids and their worried families, thinking: ‘It must be so hard to have a child who is sick having to go through terrible procedures,’” Vanessa recalled in a story she wrote on the experience. “Then, suddenly we became a family with a sick child.”

Natasha did get the heart transplant she needed and began a slow but steady recovery, despite going through a stroke and seizures. But one day, during physiotherapy, she went into cardiac arrest. Hospital staff did what they could, but after 45 minutes she died.

The Viponds are donating the tricycle they bought for Natasha during a trip back home from BC Children’s Hospital, shortly before she received the heart transplant. The toddler only got to use it once, but it is a powerful reminder of a time in her short life when she was happy and well enough to ride it.

Vanessa said it is “tough” to let go of the tricycle, but added: “I wanted it to be used for something and I’m glad that YANA is going to take it.”

Les and Ben took part in the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride the year Natasha passed away. This year, Vanessa will be joining them as a thank-you to the organization that helped them along the journey. She said it’s a service that prevented a huge financial toll on her family; something not every family can count on.

“We even met families from other cities who had to sell belongings so they could afford to be with their children,” she said. Others had to give up their jobs to spend time with their child.

The ride is also a chance to share the story of their daughter, whom they nicknamed ‘Tashy Smashy’ – an unstoppable force of silliness and laughter who would not let medications and medical equipment prevent her from reaching for and throwing her favourite toys or laughing with nurses after finishing a medical test.

“Nothing got her down,” Vanessa said.

“What it really comes down to is when you lose a child, the hardest thing is for them to be forgotten,” she said. “You want their journey to matter.”

“Natasha would be 3 1/2 this summer, so she absolutely would have been on her tricycle in Marina Park with us.”

Her message to other families who are experiencing the same thing: reach out and don’t give up.

“I would really just say to them, be open to help. You have to keep going. You have to keep positive.”

The Viponds will ride under the name ‘Team Natasha Rose’ in loving memory of their little girl.

To ride in the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride, or make a pledge in Viponds’ name, visit raceroster.com/events/2017/11701/simons-cycles-yana-ride.

To read Vanessa’s story, visit www.yanacomoxvalley.com/stories or head to Facebook to see a page Vanessa set up for Natasha at www.facebook.com/NatashaHeartJourney.

~ Comox Valley Record

Many thanks to the good people from Bikram Yoga Comox Valley who showed their love for a fellow yogi through a donation to YANA.

Everyone at Bikram got together to support a fellow yogi using YANA.

We were so pleased to be part of Salish Sea Foods’ annual, delicious BBQ. Thank you!

Thank you to the White Whale Restaurant and all contributors for making the Great Caesar Competition a huge success!

Have you seen the newest Coastal Transportation & Storage truck? We think it is amazing and are very grateful for CTS and their team of contributors including Speedpro Signs Courtenay and Comox Fire Rescue. A huge shout-out to McKinnon Photography and the Dubois family for their important role in this project!

Our appreciation to the First Credit Union & Insurance volunteers who did all kinds of things at YANA during their Community Impact Day: weeding, painting, love notes and more.

Thank you to over 40 sponsors who are contributing to this year’s Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride to ensure event expenses are covered so that monies raised go directly to Comox Valley families.

We are sincerely grateful for Simon’s Cycles and our ongoing partnership! Thank you for hosting workshops in anticipation of our big cycling event on August 20th!