Owen Munro, Abbotsford News
Life has thrown Yannick Rabu and his family more than a few curveballs in his short seven years of existence, including a brain malformation, but thanks to the generosity of Abbotsford residents, his life will become a little easier.
His parents, Vida and Yves, say they have been hesitant to ask for help, but what started as a small fundraising effort, mostly through Yves’s work, has blossomed into a huge project to raise enough money to renovate the upstairs of the Rabus’ east Abbotsford home.
They say they were especially shocked when Yannick’s teachers and educational assistants at McMillan Elementary organized a bottle drive to be held on Thursday, Dec. 1 to help cover some of the costs of renovations.
They have also created a GoFundMe account after they had an overwhelming response from people looking to make monetary donations.
“We were reluctant to ask for help, especially when we are trying for this much money,” Yves said. “But in three days we’ve raised $1,770 dollars on GoFundMe and that’s terrific.”
Because they attend to so many of Yannick’s needs, Yves has had to take time off from his job as a commercial truck driver, and Vida only works as a part-time care aide. Their home has also presented difficulties in being able to move Yannick around. He currently sleeps in the living room as it’s too difficult for him to access his bedroom.
Yannick has cerebral palsy and was diagnosed with a non-reversible brain malformation called lissencephaly (which means “smooth brain”) when he was a small child. He has epilepsy and has seizures on a daily basis. He’s non-verbal, but communicates through hand, arm and tongue gestures.
“When I see Yannick, he can only see me when I am about 20 centimetres in front of his face,” Yves said. “Anything beyond that, it’s blurry. Glasses are not an option because it would require too much work for his nerves.”
He also had a hip surgery called osteotomy in October, in which a doctor inserted a small plate into his hip to keep his hip bone aligned. His parents are hoping he will be able to have it taken off in time for Thursday’s bottle drive.
The funds raised will go into three separate projects the Rabus are hoping to accomplish. Some have already been completed – a $13,000 ramp was installed – but the Rabus say the financial strains are increasing. Through his work, Algra Bros. Developments has offered to help renovate Yannick’s bedroom to make it more accessible; the door needs to be widened to fit his hospital bed, and brackets need to be installed for a ceiling lift.
The GoFundMe money will also go towards installing a walk-in shower, but the adjoining kitchen must be moved back to make room. Yves hopes most of the adaptation costs for the home will be covered, but admits more work will probably be required over time to facilitate the best life for Yannick.
Donations can be made by searching “Yannick Home disability adaptation” at gofundme.com.