Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Meagan's Walk - A Mother's Day Tradition

In our home, Mother's Day is a time when we celebrate family.  It's an excuse for parents to spend time with their children and enjoy each other's company focusing on togetherness, health and the wealth of the relationship they have together.  The four of us have been blessed with a remarkably happy and healthy time together and holidays often remind us of how fortunate we are.

In April 2013 my friend gave birth to her first child, a little boy named Emmett.   After a remarkably uneventful pregnancy and a straightforward home birth, everyone was ready for an equally smooth transition into their new lives as parents.  Within a few days after Emmett was born it became apparent that something was wrong.  Their son was born with Esophageal Atresia with Tracheoesophageal Fistula (EA/TEF). In short, his mouth pipe didn't connect to his stomach pipe.  A few days after he was born he underwent surgery to connect the pipes.

As new parents they essentially moved into Sick Kids hospital where they hunkered down for Emmett's recovery, all while learning how to cope with parenthood and deal with everything that had just happened. After a successful surgery they set to work getting Emmett to take milk (an excruciatingly slow process). They soon realized that they would be celebrating Gwen's first Mother's Day at Sick Kids. As the day approached they were confronted with bittersweet emotions. The love and support of friends and family helped, but most parents don't envision celebrating their first Mother's Day inside a hospital.

When Mother's Day came they were both feeling pretty low. As they sat in Emmett's room an announcement was made that all parents and kids who were able should gather at the exterior windows at 11:45 a.m. for the end of Meagan's Walk.  Welcoming the distraction they bundled up Emmett and wheeled his IV/feeding pole down with them to the atrium windows.  They watched as the street below was filled with people in Meagan's Walk t-shirts. Adults and children, many from inside Sick Kid's who could make it outside, stretched as far as they could see. It felt as if everyone on the street was looking directly up at their family.

At 11:45AM everyone below joined hands, took several steps backwards, then wrapped the hospital in an enormous hug. Instantly, they felt a rush of calm for the first time since Emmett became a Sick Kid. Waving to everyone below, it was impossible not to feel hopeful.  The participants seemed to know how much everyone in that hospital needed love on Mother's Day.  It was that moment when they decided to join Meagan's Walk.

meaghan's walk participants 2014
Emmett and Dad Participating in the 2014 Meagan's Walk

Last year, shortly after Emmett's first birthday, the entire family (Emmett included), along with some of their friends, walked Meagan's Walk as "Doc and the McFlys" in the hope that their love and participation helped and comforted others as they'd been.  Highlights from their first year as a team on Meagan's Walk included:

  • 2014 was the most successful Meaghan's Walk to date raising over $100,000
  • Exceeding their team fund raising goal of $1000
  • Standing strong as a family in the hug around the hospital 
  • When Emmett met Snoopy

The money raised from Meagan's Walk goes towards the Meagan Bebenek Endowment Fund and awareness, research and treatment of paediatric brain tumours at Sick Kids.

If you would like to support Doc and the McFlys on their second year of an annual Mother's Day Tradition, they would greatly appreciate your donation.

You can see where your donations go here.

Happy Mother's Day!


  1. Thanks for taking the time to let everyone know about this great event, you're the best!

  2. I am very sorry to hear about Emmett's condition. Yes, it is going to be slow, but I hope that he got through it as the months went by. Anyway, thanks for sharing their inspiring story, and those highlights about Meagan’s Walk. I hope you’re having a wonderful day!

    Malachi Cates @ Indian Crest Peds