British Columbia

North Okanagan family gifted minivan after daughter diagnosed with rare disease

Travelling from the Okanagan to Vancouver for medical treatments for four-year-old Poppy Trombley has become a bit easier for her family after they were gifted a minivan.

'I couldn't really believe it. I started crying,' mother says of gift

Poppy Trombley, far right, and her siblings check out their family's new minivan, which they received through the charity Inspired Kindness Productions. (Submitted by Melissa Jacobs)

Travelling from the Okanagan to Vancouver for medical treatments for four-year-old Poppy Trombley has become a bit easier for her family after being gifted a minivan.

The family of five from Lake Country, B.C., previously had been travelling in two vehicles to go to the B.C. Children's Hospital in Vancouver, but after being nominated to receive a free 2012 Dodge Caravan from another family in the community, they can now travel together.

"I just feel like there are so many needy people, I couldn't really believe it. I started crying," said Michelle Trombley, a mother of three kids under the age of five.

"We're obviously going to make such good use of it. But I just think of all the other people who have needs too and I was very, very surprised."

Trombley's daughter Poppy has a rare disease called Langerhans cell histiocytosis, or LCH, which acts like a cancer and is also an immune disease.

In the fall, the young girl developed a limp that eventually escalated until she couldn't walk anymore. After a series of tests and an MRI, Poppy was sent to the children's hospital, where she stayed for most of October, Trombley told Radio West host Sarah Penton.

After having a biopsy, she's regained a lot of mobility, but she needs to continue going to the children's hospital for treatments.

"The last few weeks have been a roller-coaster, like, sometimes she's really good and other times she's not. Some days she can walk a lot. Some days she can't walk. It's been difficult," said Trombley.

"It's the constant unknown that's probably the hardest."

Giving a boost

Enter North Okanagan local Melissa Jacobs.

The teacher from Coldstream, B.C., started a charity two years ago called Inspire Kindness Productions as a way to help other families in the community. 

Each year the charity selects families from a list of nominations to give "Kindness Bags" full of items like grocery and gas gift cards.

However, this year, a friend of Jacobs reached out to her, saying she knew a family, the Tumlinsons, who wanted to give away their van to someone who needed it.

Jacobs received more than 40 nominations for the van, but it was the nomination from Trombley's stepdad that stood out to her the most.

"This story was touching and I just saw such a need," she said. "It's going to give them that boost, and I just know that having a sick kid, it must be one of the hardest things."

Trombley said it wasn't easy for her and her husband to receive such a big gift, but they hope to one day repay the favour to someone else.

'I want families to be able to just feel that much better when they're going through something so tough,' says Melissa Jacobs. To the right of Jacobs are her two kids, the Trombley family, the Tumlinsons, and Poppy on the end in front of her dad. (Submitted by Melissa Jacobs)

Paying it forward

Jacobs started Inspire Kindness as a way to pay it forward after the community rallied around her and her two kids after her husband took his own life in 2015.

"It really was the kindness from the community that helped lift my spirits and my kids and lifted us up from that grief," said Jacobs.

In addition to the van, six other local families will be receiving Kindness Bags this year.

"I want families to be able to just feel that much better when they're going through something so tough."

With files from Radio West

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.