“Your whole body and life is relying on a glorified clip… but together, we’ll get down.”
Chilliwack moms Daena Van Agteren and Natalie Compagna will rappel down a 20-storey glass building on September 9 for the 10th annual Easter Seals Drop Zone, produced by the B.C. Lions Society for Children with Disabilities.
Together, ‘Damsels in These Dresses’ will take the risk to raise funds for Easter Seals House, a Vancouver organization that provides housing to families when their kids have overnight stays at B.C. Children’s Hospital.
“We know about Easter Seals because we use their services,” said Daena as she holds her youngest of three. Daena’s eldest, Rebecca, has been attending Easter Seals House and summer camps for years.
Daena and her husband adopted Rebecca from Haiti in 2008.
Her prior caregivers described Rebecca as “a flower that hadn’t blossomed yet.” They knew that she had disabilities that would present many challenges, including epilepsy, but the full extent of the care that she would need was still uncertain.
Daena and her husband have worked very hard to support their now 14-year old over the years, the most recent of which has been particularly challenging medically for Rebecca.
In addition to problems with comprehension and motor skills, she’s been having seizures at an increasing rate and duration – up to nine per month, lasting up to 15 minutes.
“She just had a seizure this morning,” said Daena. “She hates it, it’s scary for her.”
Seeing Rebecca struggling is really difficult for her parents. “She’ll be exhausted or unable to walk from the seizures and medication, and that’s not my Rebecca. My Rebecca loves dancing, singing and running around.”
Though it’s incredibly challenging caring for a child with special needs, Easter Seals tries to make it easier, Daena explained.
Having only one car, and two other kids to manage, Daena needed an affordable place to stay throughout Rebecca’s tests and procedures.
“Your child is already going through a lot, and you want to focus on her needs,” rather than worrying about where you’re going to sleep.
Easter Seals House was a much appreciated solution for families like Daena’s.
As a mom who is “a bit of a daredevil,” the Drop Zone was the perfect way for Daena to thank Easter Seals for all their help.
“I can’t give them thousands of dollars, but I can fundraise.”
Friend and fellow supermom Natalie was quick to volunteer to join Daena on her quest, despite being terrified of heights.
“I don’t know if the Drop will cure or fuel my fear,” Natalie said, but still she sees it as a win-win.
“They’ve helped out who I consider to be my niece and sister” she explained. “Plus, it allows me to force myself out of my comfort zone, in an awesome way.”
The team went full-force into fundraising with a silent auction, a pub night with Remax Little Oak in Abbotsford, and an event at Cottonwood 4 Cinemas.
If anyone wants to donate, they can do so online.
“When you’re caring for a family, and someone who has so many needs, it’s easy to lose… a bit of who you are,” Daena said.
While Damsels in These Dresses are taking the plunge for Rebecca and Easter Seals, they are doing it for themselves, too.
“It can be hard to remember that you’re not just a wife and a mom – you’re a woman, and you’re powerful and you can do amazing things, even if they’re scary as heck.” said Natalie. “And you get to dress up!”
The small but mighty team, along with many others, will be rappelling down 999 West Hastings Street the morning of September 9. Good luck to these supermoms who are representing Chilliwack in an epic way.