Ten-year-old Annie Corrigall has been through a lot in her first decade.
At three years old, the Courtenay youngster was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. One year later, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. At six, she was diagnosed with epilepsy.
“And then just this summer, she was diagnosed with celiac disease,” said her mom, Danielle. “A lot of the challenges are just the cost of everything.”
That’s where Help Fill A Dream Foundation originally stepped in.
“My husband (Dave) had lost his job. We didn’t have any healthcare, and PharmaCare is quite useless, in my opinion, so we had to pay for a lot of her treatments out of pocket. So they (Help Fill A Dream) helped pay for the Dexcom, which is a continuous glucose monitoring system… to run those (cost) around $400 a month. So that was the biggest thing, but mostly the medical bills that we were having a hard time with.”
The Help Fill A Dream Foundation is well known for its philanthropic ways of making dreams come true for sick children, it also has a financial assistance program, to help families with the day-to-day costs of dealing with sick children.
According to the helpfilladream.com website, the intent of the program is to help reduce the financial stress that families experience from the costs and challenges associated with their child’s condition.
“Help Fill A Dream was first introduced to Annie when we received an application in June 2016 to assist the family with the expense of diabetic supplies,” said program manager Janine Boomer. “We have continued to give diabetic support to Annie when necessary.
“Help Fill A Dream operates quietly in the background as a resource for families at a time of great need. When a child is diagnosed with a life-threatening/critical condition a family’s focus becomes their child, their medical appointments and treatment. And when the time is right a family can apply for a dream.”
That time has arrived for Annie.
On Wednesday, Nov. 30, Annie and her family were presented with Annie’s dream of a trip to Disney World. She also received $300 in spending money from Help Fill A Dream’s Comox Valley volunteer team.
The reveal party took place at the Help Fill A Dream’s Comox Valley corporate sponsor, Georgia Straight Collision.
“She had originally picked a guide dog, but she was too young at the time, so she picked Disney World.”
Annie is in Grade 5 at Courtenay Elementary, but due to being immunocompromised, she does miss a lot of school.
“Just the stress of her being sick - she has been tube-fed before (due to) the Crohn’s disease, so that comes with extra cost and stress… for us it is an everyday thing, so you have to just take one day at a time and go with the flow.”
The Corrigalls have been reciprocating Help Fill A Dream’s generosity by helping spread the organization’s message.
“We have done drawing boards or storyboards for their Golf For Kids; they’ve asked us to do video of Annie’s story for galas and things like that. And then she was nominated to get her dream filled two years ago, before COVID.
“We appreciate our families, like Annie’s, allowing us to share their story, pictures, and video so that donors can see what an impact their donations have on our Dream kids,” said Boomer. “Often the story or picture of one of our Dream kids moves a donor into action which is invaluable for the Foundation.”
“We heard about Help Fill A Dream through our social worker at Nanaimo Hospital,” said Danielle. “We don’t have pediatric care here in the Valley, so all of Annie’s appointments are either at the Children’s Hospital (Vancouver) or Nanaimo Hospital.”
The Corrigalls are also a YANA family. You Are Not Alone (YANA) is a local non-profit society that provides accommodation and funding to Comox Valley families who need to travel outside the community for medical treatment for their children.
She said organizations such as Help Fill A Dream and YANA are invaluable.
“I can’t even put it into words,” said Danielle. “Janine and Craig (Smith, executive director) through Help Fill A Dream have really been above and beyond, giving us hope to get through this. They are always dropping stuff off at the house and doing little things, but it means so much to Annie.”
“We didn’t even know that these charities are out there, and now one of my big things is making sure other people know those organizations are out there,” said Danielle. “It’s a way I can pay forward.”