A St. John’s mother and her daughter are no strangers to giving. After years of anonymous donations and fundraising for others in the community, however, they have asked for the community’s help.
Jeanine McDonald wants people to know that her story “didn’t start out right.”
After struggling with infertility, McDonald and her husband Barry were overjoyed to find out they were expecting a child. Regular checks throughout her pregnancy showed a healthy baby girl.
Claire was born premature, but, as McDonald points out, “a lot of kids are.” Nothing triggered warning signs for the first few months, and the parents dove into their new family life.
At four months old, Jeanine noticed several differences between Claire and other kids her age. Jeanine brought Claire to the hospital. However, doctors summed it up as new parent jitters.
Two months later, Jeanine and Barry were back in the hospital again with more questions about their daughter. Doctors again thought the couple might have been over-protective of their child.
Eventually they succeeded in booking Claire for an MRI.
After the MRI, the doctor showed the parents images of two different brains: a normal healthy brain and one with cerebral palsy. The one with cerebral palsy was Claire’s
“That’s when our journey started,” said Jeanine.
Auction for Claire
By the time Claire was 18 months old, she was diagnosed with epilepsy along with cerebral palsy. This meant more hospital visits added to the agenda, but Jeanine will tell you that Claire doesn’t mind. She proudly shows her bruised arms after returning home from the hospital, so proud the doctor has given her a needle.
“Sometimes it’s really rough, sometimes it’s really sad, sometimes it’s really lonely,” said Jeanine.
Through support groups and play groups, however, Jeanine has found supportive friends such as Amanda Kirby and Danielle Putt.
Kirby met Jeanine in 2011 through a mommy’s support group that Jeanine ran on Facebook. After listening to Claire’s story, she knew she needed to help.
The McDonalds are known for fundraising, but they keep it low key. Anonymous donations and fundraisers have been more of a therapy for them.
“They have a craft fair every year, and all proceeds are donated to help other families,” Putt said.
A 50/50 draw and Facebook auction put off by Kirby helped the McDonalds build a wheelchair accessible ramp outside their house eight years ago. However, Claire has grown since then and the wheelchair that used to get her around just doesn’t fit her or the house anymore.
A fundraiser called Auction for Claire took place on Facebook between January 16 and January 22 2019. More than 250 items were put up for auction. Gift cards, tickets to hockey games, homemade jewellery are just some of the items donated.
A longtime friend of Jeanine, Amanda Kirby, ran the auction for the family. In the week the auction ran, Kirby collected $6,000.
The McDonald’s and Kirby are planning another auction for February and are asking for any items you can donate, new or used.
The money raised will go towards major renovations on the McDonalds’ 70-year-old home that will help Claire gain more independence. Jeanine can vouch that lifting around a 70-pound young girl isn’t easy, but it’s more about Claire’s independence than her own comfort.
“We just have to accept the fact she isn’t our little girl anymore. She is going to be our little lady.”