Support from Chilliwack in 2013 made all the difference.
Susi Vander Wyk of Chilliwack was crowned Walmart Canada’s Mom of the Year in October.
She was over the moon when she found out her charity, Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy Canada, won the grand prize of $100,000.
“What it gives is hope to be able to fund more SMA research with that money, and offer support for the newly diagnosed,” she told The Progress.
The charity offers “a balm” for shattered families when a family member is diagnosed with SMA.
“But what we do is show that someone out there has their back when times are tough, which they are from the start,” she said. “They get a friendship for life.”
Vander Wyk is a mother to three children Dexter, Holli and Amy. When Holli was only two, she was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy type 2.
She started a support group for parents of children with all types of disabilities and later became president of SMA Canada.
As well as organizing a summer camp for families, the Vander Wyks host events on their dairy farm, like Easter egg hunts, Christmas parties and campfires, for families with children living with SMA.
Humility is one of her qualities. She was “shocked and humbled” at first by the contest nomination last spring, by her niece. She became one of 20 semi finalists, attracting vigorous online voting, and then in early August she found out she’d made the cut as one of eight finalists for Mom of the Year.
The prize money will now go to helping SMA Canada families and the scientific side of things.