Sue Stewart (left) and Riley Severinski. Jeff Weddell Photography.

20-year hospital journey inspires a legacy

Riley was just a six-week-old infant when her mom, Sue, was told her daughter had an abnormal heart murmur. While this visit to BC Children’s for the diagnosis paled in intensity compared to other health challenges to follow, it began a 20-year journey for the Stewart family from Maple Ridge with BC Children’s Hospital.

As Riley grew, Sue noticed her daughter was missing significant infant milestones. At fifteen months old, Riley was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that is characterized by a small head, pixie-like features, heart issues and cognitive impairments.

With her diagnosis, Riley’s care team at BC Children’s grew. The team of specialists in the craniofacial department supported Riley as she navigated physical challenges associated with Williams Syndrome, including missing adult teeth, slanted jaw and tooth structure and hearing loss.

The physical challenges also meant emotional challenges. Through battles with severe anxiety, Riley was supported by the mental health and psychology teams at the hospital. Their expertise helped the young girl become the young woman she is today.

“On more than one occasion, I felt I was in a safe and secure spot to simply break down and succumb to my feelings of grief and anxiety,” says Riley’s mom, Sue. “The people we saw, the people who were involved with Riley’s care, and even the people who called after to see how I was or how Riley was, have all touched us deeply. I will be forever grateful for each and every one of them. I truly believe the staff at BC Children’s are all hand-picked for their kindness and compassion.”

Now 22 years old, Riley is thriving as a young adult thanks to the care and attention from healthcare providers throughout the hospital.

“She’s a super self-advocate for herself and enjoys educating others on who she is and what she is about,” says Sue.

After years of relying on the hospital for Riley (and for a few visits for her brothers), Sue felt it was important to give back through a legacy gift to BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. With the help of her lawyer, Sue completed the simple process of including the Foundation in her Will and is resting easy knowing her legacy gift is set up and taken care of. The gift in her Will allows Sue to help other future families receive the same exceptional care they did.

“I want my children to see that a small part can make a difference,” said Sue, “and instill in them the value of helping others.”

To learn more about how your legacy may support BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, please visit bcchf.ca/legacy

Sue Stewart, Riley Severinski (middle) and Brent Barichello. To learn more about how your legacy may support BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, please visit bcchf.ca/legacy.

Sue Stewart, Riley Severinski (middle) and Brent Barichello. To learn more about how your legacy may support BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, please visit bcchf.ca/legacy.

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