Meet Bertie & Tristyn
At 43 years old, Bertie made a decision that would completely change the course of her life. Bertie left her stable, secure job at Service Canada to adopt her son 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.
Tristyn’s unexpected medical challenges put a huge financial strain on Bertie. As a single-parent who walked away from her career to care for Tristyn, Bertie depends heavily on the breakfast and lunch programs at Tristyn’s elementary school. For years, she dreaded weekends as there was rarely enough food at home to carry their little family through until Monday morning.
“Every dollar is spent strategically and sometimes there just isn’t enough. That’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to face as a mother,” Bertie explains.
When Tristyn received his first delivery from Backpack Buddies, it made all the difference for their family.
“It can be really hard to ask for help,” Bertie admits. “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.”
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 videogames. “Tristyn is my gift for anything I’ve ever done good in the world. He is my everything,” says Bertie.
“I want to give him the best life possible,” says Bertie. “Support from Backpack Buddies donors helps me do just that.”
Stocked full of everything Tristyn needs - fruit, high-protein snacks, and complete meals - these bags of food fuel him over the weekend and ensures he returns to school happy, healthy and ready to learn. And all it costs is $10.