On November 9th, 2010, my five-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, passed away suddenly from complications related to congenital heart disease. Although she had lived her life with the diagnosis of heart disease and pediatric stroke, her death was unexpected and has left me searching to find hope again…hope that no other child will lose their life, hope that no other family will have to know this pain, hope that no other mother will have to find a way to live with a divided soul – existing in this life with her living children but also somewhere else with her child on ‘the other side’.
As if Gabrielle’s death wasn’t enough, seven weeks later my father passed away suddenly. Then in August 2011, my mother was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. I am not sure I will ever find the words to describe this past year.
I do know that my beliefs about forgiveness, unconditional love and compassion have helped guide me through some very dark days. My beliefs, combined with Gabrielle’s passion for life have inspired the creation of ‘Gabrielle’s Ride’ – a way for me to actively include Gabrielle and her wisdom in my everyday life and a way for her community to remember her too.
I want my living children to learn, through example, the power of forgiveness and how important it is to love with compassion, even when the rest of the world says to be angry. I continually question how I can best help my two living children live and learn through these traumas and still grow up to be healthy individuals achieving their potential.
This is how I ended up here…a mom first, with a career and personal interests, and the passion to help my children not just survive this disaster but to live through it thriving.
Gabrielle’s Ride is a charity cycle that will take place annually in Oakville, Ontario. Funds raised by this event will support Cardiac Kids and The Pediatric Stroke Fund at SickKds Foundation. Fundraising dollars will be used for life saving research, the development of social programs and the support of families affected by congenital heart disease and pediatric stroke.
Gabrielle’s Ride will share her story of passion and our story of hope through our commitment to the children who share her challenges everyday.