Meet Bertie and Tristyn

A Family’s Story

Every dollar is spent strategically. Sometimes there just isn’t enough. Backpack Buddies helps fill in those gaps to make sure Tristyn gets the nutrition he needs.

At 43 years old, Bertie made a decision that would completely change the course of her life. Bertie left her career at Service Canada to become the adopted mother of Tristyn—a 4lb 11oz newborn who was fighting for his life.

“I knew as soon as I held him, I would do anything to help him survive.” 

Tristyn was born with an underdeveloped heart and lungs, and a collapsed trachea. “He had a tracheotomy and had to be tube-fed. He needed a new heart. For the first four years of his life he was dying,” says Bertie. “We practically lived at the hospital and everyday I had to face the possibility of losing the greatest gift I’d ever been given.”

When Tristyn was 4 years old, he received a heart transplant and could finally come home for good. Just one year later, Bertie was dropping him off for his first day of kindergarten at Grandview Elementary. “He was tiny. He had spent so much time in isolation and had really only seen other kids through a window,” says Bertie.   

As a single mother and primary caregiver, Bertie had to learn to manage her new life on a very tight budget. “I knew I was choosing poverty for myself, but I didn’t realize I was choosing poverty for him as well. That’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to face as a mother,” says Bertie. 

“Every dollar is spent strategically. Sometimes there just isn’t enough. Backpack Buddies helps fill in those gaps to make sure Tristyn gets the nutrition he needs.”

When Backpack Buddies first came to Grandview, Tristyn and Bertie were both thrilled. Food is a big deal in their household. You see, it wasn’t until Tristyn was 7 years old that his feeding tube was finally removed and he was able to swallow food.  

“Eating for the first time was weird and cool. I didn’t really know what food was,” says Tristyn. “Now I can eat everything. Kraft Dinner and wieners is my favourite meal in Backpack Buddies. I like that I can cook it myself.”

Today, Bertie is visibly proud of Tristyn who has grown into a distinctive and intelligent 12-year-old boy who loves his school, his friends, and video games. “Tristyn is my gift for anything I’ve ever done good in the world. He is my everything, and I want to give him the best life possible,” says Bertie.

“It can be really hard to ask for help. But Backpack Buddies is discrete and respectful. You just go in and pick it up. No questions asked. As a single mother, that support means everything when times are tough.”

Make a Difference Today

Join us as a donor. Pack bags as a volunteer. Get your company connected. Whatever you do, when you get involved with Backpack Buddies, you will be putting hope back on the table for hungry kids across BC.

Get Involved

There are lots of ways to get involved with Backpack Buddies. Join us and explore how you can make a difference in the lives of hungry kids in your own community and across BC.

Get Started

Donate Now

Your gift today will provide hungry kids with meals and snacks to last them the weekend and beyond.

One-Time GiftMonthly Giving