Angela Thorneloe, her daughter Ayla, Sarah Coopsie and Mike Christians with a photo of baby Violet. (Hugo Wong/News Staff)

Three-year old fundraises for new hospital rocking chair

When Sarah Coopsie and Mike Christians were at Victoria General Hospital with their daughter Violet, they spent a lot of time peering out of windows. Violet was born with several congenital heart defects, and could not spend much time outside. It was summertime, and they frequently saw butterflies through the glass.

“You’d look out the window and one would flutter by or you’d be driving and one would flutter by again, and they were just, everybody saw them…They kind of made us feel like she was present,” said Coopsie.

The significance is not lost on Violet’s three-year old cousin, Ayla, who was running around her home in Saanichton on a Saturday morning, undeterred by a cold.

“Ayla sees them as well, even now, she’ll see one and say, ‘baby Bats is here.’” Her mother, Angela Thorneloe, explained that Ayla could not say “Violet” earlier this year, so that’s what she calls her.

Violet died on July 1, 2017, and when trying to help Ayla process this loss, Thorneloe decided it was a good opportunity to raise money for a new rocking chair so families at Victoria General Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) would have a better place to sit. A card featuring a butterfly painting by Ayla is being sold on Etsy to raise $3,000 for a special, hospital-grade chair — in purple, naturally.

They have already sold 100 cards, and after they sell the next batch of 150, they should have the money they need.

“She’s only three-and-a-half now,” said Thorneloe, “but one day it will meaningful to her that she took part in leaving a legacy at the hospital in her cousin’s name, so we decided to make the cards.”

“It’s just something that we’re very proud of Ange and Ayla for doing … for having a charitable mind, making sure it’s there for those long-term stays,” said Christians.

The couple were informed about Violet’s heart defect before she was born, so they spent the last weeks of pregnancy at Ronald McDonald House to be closer to B.C. Children’s Hospital. After her birth, doctors found several heart defects and an interstitial lung disease which interfered with oxygen exchange. Just after three months, doctors diagnosed Violet with Kabuki syndrome, which explained the combination of problems that Violet had.

The family flew between BC Children’s Hospital and Victoria General Hospital “quite a bit,” said Coopsie.

“I guess you could characterize it as hard,“ said Christians, “but at the same time, easy, because it’s our kid.”

“I’d say we were in survival mode,” said Coopsie, “but we just did it because that’s what needed to be done. There was no questions asked. We just loved her to pieces; that’s what you did.”

The couple would spend all day at the hospital, other family members would relieve them in the evening and nurses would take over in the wee hours. All this time made Thorneloe notice that the chairs in the PICU were not very comfortable, so the idea of the rocking chair came to be.

Although Violet had a short life, her parents are thankful that they got to spend every waking moment with their daughter, who said she was an “old soul” with big, beautiful eyes who always wanted to be held.

They praised the staff at the PICU, who they called “basically family.”

“I remember in the beginning when we started spending time there, we were pretty hesitant to leave Violet alone there at night; we always wanted to be around. And we came to realize that they basically loved her as much as we did. That’s how it sort of felt,” said Christians.

And so, after asking nurses and the Victoria Hospital Foundation, they agreed that a new chair would be a welcome addition to the space.

“We’ll know always that the purple chair is the one that’s for Violet,” said Thorneloe.

To buy a card, visit etsy.com/ca/listing/556215926/cards-for-vgh-picu

Just Posted

Shoebox Project reaches out to women in crisis

Boxes are distributed to transition homes

Colwood mayor pitches ferry as commuter alternative

Mayor Rob Martin says different modes of transportation need to be considered

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Bouquet sales support big dreams in Greater Victoria

Country Grocer features holiday bouquets for Help Fill a Dream

Emerald Gloves boxing brings fights to Langford

Langford’s Matt Daniels dropped weight for debut

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

Port Alberni convenience store robbed

Police still searching for suspect

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Liberals to act quickly if Saturday midnight deal deadline breached: source

Oh Friday, Canadian Union of Postal Workers said it would not bring the latest offers to a vote of its members

Police probe several allegations of sex assault at Toronto school

Police say they have learned of other incidents of alleged assault and sexual assault

Most Read