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A Highway to Healing Journey

Not every road is an easy one. Some have twists and turns and some are downright steep and bumpy with no room to turn around on.

For one little one, it’s been a challenging ride so far. Kolt has hit some pretty deep potholes in the road, but he’s determined. He keeps pushing himself into gear and climbing that steep road no matter how rough it gets.

On April 16, 2019, Kolt made his entrance into the world a little sooner than expected weighing only 3 lbs 8.3 oz. He was born with a heart defect. One out of 100 babies is born with one however his little heart had several.

To make matters worse, a few obstacles in Kolt’s way early on has made his journey a lot more treacherous. At one month old, he experienced a heart attack and stroke after a surgery to correct one heart defect didn’t go so well. He quickly landed on life support.

Then, at 8 months old he had a second heart attack and stroke after contracting the bocavirus which is linked to the Corona Virus. This time, Kolt found himself in the ICU for two months.

Kolt’s parents have met their own obstacles along this bumpy road. In a high-priced world with rapidly rising inflation, two incomes are essential for families to make ends meet. However, during a crisis like this, it isn’t always possible. With two children to care for, one of who was back and forth between BC Children’s Hospital and Kelowna General Hospital for 1.5 years, both parents needed to be there. While Kolt’s mom, Kendall, remained on maternity leave for two years, Kolt’s dad, Bryan, also took two years away from his job.

Thankfully there are people and organizations out there like Highway to Healing (H2H) and Buy-Low Foods that can bring some peace of mind during difficult times and make a rough road a little smoother.


Kolt at a year old with his sister, Taylor

Who does ‘Highway To Healing’ help?

Highway to Healing is a service for families — living in Okanagan Falls, Oliver, and Osoyoos — who need to travel outside of the area to get medical care for their child.

“People tend to think that ‘Highway to Healing’ is for children that have cancer or for people who are really really sick and going to BC Children’s Hospital all the time,” said Tracy MacFadden, President of Highway To Healing. “But the truth is that we will support people for all sorts of medical care.”

If you need help getting to an orthotic appointment in Penticton or a specialist appointment in Kelowna, Highway to Healing can help get you to those appointments too.

“We will help with a single appointment day trip up to if you have to keep going back and forth to BC Children’s Hospital for years on end,” explained MacFadden.

Once you start with Highway To Healing, they will continue to support you as long as you need. There are no limits.

How does ‘Highway to Healing’ help families?

Highway To Healing supports families financially with travel expenses and they also provide resources.

“We can put families in touch with Ronald McDonald House, Easter Seals, and other charities that can support them in other ways,” McFadden explains.

How did ‘Highway to Healing’ help Kolt’s family?

Kendall and Bryan are incredibly grateful for the assistance of Highway to Healing which started shortly after Kolt’s birth. It helped them financially with travel expenses to and from medical procedures and appointments as well as with food costs when they were living at BC Children’s Hospital.

Furthermore, the process was easy and personable.

“It was pleasantly simple because we didn’t feel like a number or just another application,” explained Kendall. “They were with us every step of the way. They’re an amazing organization.”

Highway to Healing is still in contact with Kolt’s family even to this day!

How easy is it to get funding?

Highway to Healing has made it easy for families going through crisis or trauma to access funding quickly. There is no means-testing and no onerous paperwork.

“All that families need to do is literally get in contact with us,” explained MacFadden. “We determine that they live in the service area and that they have a child of the appropriate age [between ages in-utero to 19 years].”

If you need help, send an email to HighwaytoHealing@Live.ca along with your child’s scheduled appointment and that’s it! In most cases, the Board will approve the request and the funds will be dispersed quickly.

“Our goal is to help within 24 hours of a request,” said MacFadden.

How did ‘Highway To Healing’ start?

The Rotary Club of Oliver started the Highway To Healing initiative after a similar organization located in Comox established that there was a great need in the South Okanagan.

Within a year and a half, the Rotary Club realized that Highway to Healing was a way bigger initiative than they could manage so they banded with community members and started a society.

How many people do they help each year?

The number of families helped each year varies as new families are faced with crises or trauma.

“Last year we gave out over $24,000 to 12 families,” said MacFadden.

Fundraising Events, Initiatives, & Donations

Highway To Healing implements fundraising initiatives to raise money for the program, however, some of that was halted during the pandemic.

“We started a golf tournament two years before COVID, so we only got two annual golf tournaments in, and then COVID hit for two years,” explained MacFadden.

Although Highway To Healing doesn’t have plans for another golf tournament at this time, they will soon be implementing a new fundraising initiative called Pave the Way where people can help fund various things like ‘parking at BC Children’s Hospital for one day’ or ‘a family’s trip to and from BC Children’s Hospital’. Visit their website for details coming soon.

Highway To Healing appreciates any donation no matter how big or small. It all helps. The society is especially thankful for the generosity of their ‘angel donor’ who has given a whopping $60K to the program over the years.

Buy-Low Foods Initiatives

Buy-Low Foods is a huge supporter of the Variety – The Children’s Charity as well as its community partners and societies like Highway to Healing. Next time you’re at the checkout, look for the board on the wall titled MyNR Supporting my neighbourhood.

One easy thing you can do to support any of these initiatives is to donate your MyNR points when you’re at the till.

Buy-Low Foods is also kindly donating two $50 gift certificates as prizes for this month’s #Oliver12 social media contest. Follow Oliver Tourism on Facebook and Instagram for details and monthly contest announcements!

Community-Led Events & Projects

If you are inspired to help the Highway To Healing cause by holding your own fundraising event, project, or sale, get in touch with them. They can provide various resources and support. Learn more here.

Do you need help?

If you are a family with a sick or injured child and need support and resources, visit Highway to Healing online.

Enter To Win!

Prize: Two $50 Gift Certificates from Buy-Low Foods, 100X100 Softcover Book, Oliver Tourism Swag!

Enter our fourth #Oliver12 Contest which aims to raise awareness about Oliver’s amazing local businesses, non-profit organizations, and charities! Follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram to enter!

Tania is the Content Marketing Specialist at Oliver Tourism. She is also a tourism and event photographer in the region. Visit her @tvtourismphotography on Facebook and Instagram!