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Bear Essentials program a lifeline for Island family

Children’s Health Foundation program provides essential equipment for specialized needs
Meiko, with son Liam, who’s benefited from the Bear Essentials program through the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island.

By Megan Maher, Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island

Liam is a happy, social, seven-year-old who loves animals, music and his brother Ronin. From the moment he was born, he faced significant health complications. Meiko, Liam’s mother, shared their story of resilience and determination in the face of adversity. “He came into this world fast, and I knew he had Down syndrome, and I was overjoyed.”

Liam’s early days were fraught with uncertainty. He experienced seizures and was frequently admitted to intensive care due to breathing difficulties. Meiko described her son’s fragility, recounting how he was intubated three times in the first nine months of his life, saying, “He hasn’t had any since, but we were concerned that he might die. So that was a very challenging time for us.”

Each one of Liam’s 14 surgeries are a testament to his resilience. Meiko’s love and faith in her son shines through as she talks about his health journey, with her belief that Liam’s inner strength would guide him to a bright future. She shares, “I call him my little hobbit because he’s happy, he’s innocent, and one day he’ll save the world.”

As time passes, Liam’s health challenges persist, but have become more manageable. Meiko expressed the ongoing fear she feels whenever Liam falls ill, but it is no longer as dire as those early days. Despite tiring easily, he’s growing bigger and stronger, thanks to ankle foot orthoses provided by Bear Essentials that enable him to run, bringing joy and happiness to everyone around him.

Ronin, who also has autism, is fiercely protective of Liam. Their bond is a testament to the love and understanding that exists within families facing complex medical needs. Meiko shares, “Ronin is his little brother’s protector, and Liam is a very kind and loving individual. That’s their loving relationship.”

Meiko also shared the difficulties she faced as a single mother for several years, emphasizing the importance of having a support system and a strong community to lean on during challenging times. She highlighted the invaluable role of organizations like Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, whose Bear Essentials program provided funding for a stroller which helps the family travel outside.

“I don’t think people understand how important Bear Essentials is, because without that stroller, I would be housebound,” she says. “Now I can actually lift my son into the stroller because he can’t walk for long periods.”

The specialized equipment provided by Bear Essentials, including the sturdy stroller, orthoses, and other essential items, made a significant difference in Liam’s life. The stroller allows the family to leave the house, go to school, and attend medical appointments, providing a level of mobility they wouldn’t have achieved otherwise.

“Before knowing Bear Essentials was there to help, I was upset and sad. I didn’t know how to transport him and these items are so expensive,” Meiko says.

She is relieved knowing that Bear Essentials can be relied upon for support when Liam needs it, ensuring that he can access the health care and equipment required for his well-being.

“I just call you guys a lifeline because you do so much,” says Meiko. “We’re all different, but we’re all beautiful. And that’s what makes life wonderful.”

Learn more about the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island at, where you can also donate today to help bring joy to Island children.

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