Leland Funk was only three years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia in Vanderhoof, BC. The next day, the Funk family, including five-year old Alexa and one-year old Darcy, found themselves 900 km away at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC to seek treatment for Leland.
Over the next year, the Funk family would make the trek from Vanderhoof to Vancouver every two weeks, usually for a few days, once for a month, and once for a 4-month period during intensive treatment.
The constant travel and distance from home has been difficult for the Funks, but Ronald McDonald House gave them space to be a family and allowed them to bring a little bit of Vanderhoof to Vancouver. Throughout their stay, Leland was surrounded by support from mom Bianca, dad Dean, his siblings, and also his aunt and grandma who sometimes came to help.
At the House, Leland can often be found enjoying Nintendo and movie nights, helping to feed the fish, or building new creations in the LEGO lounge. When together in the House, all three siblings play in the playroom, basketball court and on the Snakes and Ladders playground, bonding with each other and other children living with similar medical challenges.
In addition to the many programs such as art, family dinners and improv nights, Bianca is grateful for the small, thoughtful things that helped to make her stay easier: wagons to transport groceries (and kids) around the House, umbrellas to grab at the front door, and space to store food in the fridge. Bianca also formed lasting bonds with other families staying at the House while spending time in the family-centric kitchens and dining rooms, designed to bring people together.
The Funk family is now back in Vanderhoof full-time. Every three months, they travel back to Vancouver for continued treatment and check-ups, and when they return they are always grateful for their home away from home and the families they have come to know. “I have kept in touch with quite a few families and we reach out as often as we can!” Bianca says. “We try and plan to meet in Vancouver and continue to lean on each other on those hard days.”
Thanks to you, kids like Leland and their families have a home away from home. Donate today and keep a family like the Funks close.