Family honours Ava’s memory while giving back.

Gary’s favourite stuffed animal is a teddy bear. On its belly, it says, “Ava: my guardian angel, my sister” and when you squeeze it you hear Ava’s heartbeat.

The teddy bear is one of the ways Ava’s parents keep her memory alive.

Sarah and Bobbie, Ava’s parents, from Markdale, Ont. stayed at RMHC Toronto in 2017. Ava had a rare gene mutation that caused complications requiring surgery and other treatments.

Sadly, Ava died on November 27, 2017. Sarah and Bobbie returned home after spending nine months on and off at the House, and the star in the Tranquility Garden was lit for 24 hours in her honour.

Last year, Sarah and Bobbie hosted the first annual fundraising event for RMHC Toronto in Ava’s memory.

“Ava’s Walk is our way of giving back with our family and friends. We made an event logo with an image of her footprint and using her favourite colour purple. We raised $2,300 and I know every dollar counts at RMHC Toronto,” says Sarah.

Sarah and Bobbie appreciated the programs and supports available for parents, since Ava was in-patient at the hospital.

“Our first Mother’s Day and Father’s Day was spent at the House. On every holiday there was a small gift for us or a party to spend time with other families, which I really appreciated while being away from home.”

Due to physical distancing guidelines, this year Sarah and Bobbie started an online fundraising page for Ava’s Walk to support the new Meals for Families program. While Home for Dinner is paused, Meals for Families provides nutritious and safely catered dinners that are individually packaged and delivered to their rooms.

“I worked at McDonald’s and participated in a Home for Dinner. I knew it was great, but now I understand the impact. This is when Bobbie and I would leave the hospital for an hour. Every group that came in was so happy to serve us, and even on my worst days they made me smile.”

This year Ava’s Walk raised $2,000 from their online fundraiser and by selling drink koozies with the Ava’s Walk logo on it.

Sarah is already thinking about what the event could look like next year.

“I’d like to host a virtual walk for our family that lives across the country. This way everyone will feel more involved and we can hopefully raise more money.”

RMHC Toronto is so thankful for fundraisers like Ava’s Walk, which helps us keep even more families with seriously ill children together.

For ideas on fundraisers you can do virtually, check out our Host a Virtual Fundraising Event page.