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

Victoria police investigate dumpster fire in gated alleyway

VicPD and Victoria Fire Department respond to fire on Johnson Street

Pacific FC signs 24-year-old defensive midfielder from Panama

González joins the roster following the team’s 2-2 tie game against York9 FC.

Pacific FC game ends with tie against York9 on Saturday

PFC’s defender scored an own goal off a deflection, putting the game at 2-2

Famed Syrian artist displays paintings created while living in refugee camps

Farid Abdulbaki’s ‘Between Two Worlds’ exhibit will be displayed May 24-26 in Victoria

Mighty Garage Sale offers boost to Metchosin groups

Metchosin Community Association holds annual sale on May 25 and 26

VIDEO: Horseshoe pitching association appeals to Greater Victora youngsters

Youth horseshoe pitching club offers fun for all ages, says GVHPA

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Most Read