In March 2022, baby girl Elouise, affectionately known as Lou, came into the world. Lou’s parents, Stephanie and Spencer, started their parenthood journey like any other couple. However, their lives took an unexpected turn when Lou fell ill with COVID-19 a few months after her birth.
Lou’s condition worsened, leading to sepsis, and she ended up in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unite at McMaster Children’s Hospital. After numerous tests, and many scares, Lou was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called HLH.
Lou’s treatment required a bone marrow transplant and Lou was transferred to SickKids. The treatment plan involved chemotherapy to suppress Lou’s existing immune system, followed by the transplantation of donor cells. The family stayed at RMHC Toronto for 70 days while being monitored by the SickKids team.
“RMHC Toronto was a welcoming place for our family to be together during the most difficult moments of our life,” says Stephanie. “We can’t thank this amazing organization enough for housing, feeding and caring for us as a family.”
During their stay, Lou’s family found themselves surrounded by love and compassion from their community. With Lou’s immune system requiring isolation, friends and family stepped up by donating blood to support Lou’s transfusions. They formed a group called “Lou’s Crew” to rally behind her.
Other friends and family who were unable to donate blood still wanted to contribute. Inspired by Stephanie’s grandmother, who had been an active volunteer and supporter of RMHC Toronto for many years, the idea of the “Lou’s Room” fundraiser was born.
The initial goal of the fundraiser was to support the family’s stay at RMHC Toronto and contribute to the organization. Friends, family, coworkers, and even local hockey teams came together – not just financially but also with well wishes and encouragement.
“We were overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity,” says Stephanie. “Not only did people contribute financially, but the power of our community really helped us get through our situation.”
Motivated by the community’s response, the family plans to continue supporting RMHC Toronto and maintain “Lou’s Room.” They aim to raise funds throughout the five-year milestone after Lou’s transplant, a significant moment in her journey.
During their stay at RMHC Toronto and through their fundraising efforts, the family has experienced many heartwarming moments. Celebrating Christmas at the House with festive meals and thoughtful gifts allowed them to create new memories despite being away from their extended family.
Reflecting on their journey, Stephanie and Spencer shared this advice for other families facing similar challenges or considering supporting a charity. “Take things one day at a time, embrace your surroundings, and lean on friends, family, and organizations like RMHC Toronto for support during the most difficult times.”
Lou’s Room is a testament to the power of love, resilience, and community support. The journey of Lou and her family showcases how a challenging situation can inspire acts of kindness and bring people together to create a brighter future.
Support families like Lou’s who are going through the most difficult time in their lives by donating to RMHC Toronto here.