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.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community and everyone who participated in the Holiday Resort Walk fundraiser this winter!
Your generosity and community spirit are truly inspiring. Today, we were thrilled to be one of the three charities to receive a cheque for over $2000 and celebrate the occasion with Colin Stairs and sweet little Avery!!!
Your donation and support will make a big difference in supporting the families in our community!
We can’t thank you enough for your support and hope to continue celebrating the holidays together every year!

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.

‘Amazing gift’ of support for Rohne family from YANA

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Originally published by the Comox Valley Record, March 15, 2023

Jasper Myers – Special to the Record

The Rohne family is no strangers to YANA – Jenny and Jamin Rohne have four sons, and this past fall received help from YANA for their 13-year-old son Judah.

Back in the fall, Judah noticed something was wrong with his back, first noticing it in his ribs. Jenny said they went to a doctor who referred them to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Miyanji, at BC Children’s Hospital. In January the Rohnes saw Dr. Miyanji.

“So it all happened very quickly, “ said Jenny. “We saw our own doctor and physiotherapist here and got X-rays and all that here in November, and then she sent all that off. But in January, we were consulted over at BC Children’s, and we thought we would just get an initial consult. But right away he said that Judah had adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.”

The doctor told them his case was severe and Judah had quite a twist in his back and would need surgery as soon as possible. Judah would end up having surgery on Feb. 13, a week before his 14th birthday.

“They basically said he urgently needed surgery for his scoliosis and that he was the perfect age where he was growing a lot,” she said. “So he could do this new surgery called vertebral body tethering. And you had to meet the criteria, which was, you’re still growing a lot and you have a curvature in your spine that is greater than 35 degrees, but it couldn’t be any more than 60 degrees.”

After an urgent MRI was done in the Comox Valley, Jenny said her son’s surgery was booked. She knew they’d need to be at BC Children’s Hospital for a week and having used YANA before, she reached out to them for support.

“Almost 10 years ago we had a crisis moment where one of our children had to be flown to BC Children’s and the emergency room doctor nursing staff had given us a YANA envelope, and that was our first intro to YANA,” Jenny said. “We didn’t really know what it was about or how it worked, but they were so incredibly supportive.”

Ten years ago, Jenny’s youngest son had fallen and badly injured himself and had to be helicoptered to BC Children’s Hospital. It was during this moment when they were first introduced to YANA. Jenny said the envelope they were given said they could call, email or text YANA at any time and they would receive support.

“From there, I did, within the 24 hours, got connected, and they put one of us up in a hotel so we could take turns on the floor with our child at the hospital for the week,” she said. “They’re amazing so basically I just looked them up and they are such good communicators. I looked them up and sent them an email and even when they’re closed, they still get a hold of you so quickly.”

Jenny said the process with YANA is easy, with no hoops to jump through, which she added is amazing when a family is in a crisis. YANA put the Rohne family in one of their apartments in Vancouver, right by BC Children’s Hospital, that they could use for as long as needed and assisted the family with other expenses.

“YANA literally supports you financially with no strings attached. It’s amazing because I think quickly, in a crisis, you can financially become in crisis too,” she said. “When you don’t know how long you’re going to be, and you’re in a big city and everything is expensive and you want to be close to your child who is at the hospital, and one parent is there and one parent is going back and forth. So it is an amazing gift to just be given a home away from home and to be able to get refreshed and be able to go back to the apartment and keep your things there.”

Judah and his parents are now back in the Valley, but Jenny said YANA has let them know they have ongoing support whenever they need it. This, Jenny said, is something she feels the Valley is lucky to have. She also noted the support YANA receives from the community is special.

“So many people personally message me or text me or comment on social media saying, how can we help or if there’s anything you need, and honestly, all these people, so many of them support YANA, and the way that YANA supports us directly, I feel like all those people that are giving to YANA are truly also linking arms with us and supporting us,” she 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.


Big shoutout to The Comox Box for their recent donation to YANA from their February sales! Your support helps us continue providing travel assistance funding and accommodation support for families who have to travel for medical treatment for their children. Thank you for making a difference in our community and for your commitment to helping families in our community!

Wow, wow, wow! We are speechless (which doesn’t happen in our office often!!) Thank you doesn’t begin to explain the gratitude we have to William C. Your extremely generous donation will be put to use in supporting our YANA families! Because of people like you, we are able to say, “We got you!” in the darkest times! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

With a warm hug and thank you in hand to Donna L. for her very generous donation in honor of her son. Your story touched all our hearts in the office! We hope everyone lives life to the fullest as your son chose to do! Thank you for helping us stand alongside our YANA families!

2023 Big Love Benefit another huge success

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Comox Valley, get ready to celebrate because you’ve done it again! Drum roll, please! 

We are proud to announce that together the 2023 YANA Big Love Benefit has surpassed all expectations, coming in at an incredible $205,000 final fundraising total!

We are speechless, teary-eyed, and beyond grateful to all our sponsors, donors, volunteers, and supporters who made this event such a success. Whether you purchased an in-person or livestream ticket, raffle ticket, donated an item to the auction, placed a bid in the auction, or simply offered your support, your contribution has made all of this possible!

Big, huge, GARGANTUAN LOVE to every single YANA supporter far and wide!