Britney Colussi in the halls of Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto
Britney Colussi created the fundraising campaign LivingstrongMD in honour of her cousin Mikey. Both are 24 years old and have been close their entire lives.
Mikey has spent his life in and out of hospitals. He was born with serious heart defects, Down syndrome, and has experienced severe seizures, which have caused his condition to worsen over time.
There were many times, more than she would like to remember, that Britney and her family were faced with the reality that Mikey may not come home from the hospital.
“My aunt, uncle and cousins live on an emotional roller coaster,” she says. “I see the heartbreak firsthand that so many families experience.”
Thanks to nurses along with his mother, father and brothers, Mikey now receives full-time care and the love of his family at home.
Witnessing what comes with having a seriously ill child and the toll that it takes on a family, Britney channelled her energy into helping other children and their families.
In 2015, she began fundraising for two Toronto charities that were close to her heart, The Hospital for Sick Children and Ronald McDonald House. Mikey spent much of his life at Sick Kids, as did his family.
She called her campaign, LivingstrongMD, incorporating Mikey’s initials into the name.
“What Mikey is doing is living strong, he is really the resilient one,” she says. “I wanted to name it for how we all look at him.”
In her first year, she raised $8,000, and the following year $9,000. In 2017, she collected $10,000.
Her goal is to establish LivingstrongMD as a charity, and raise $20,000 by this Christmas. (Editor's note: since the publishing of this story, the LivingstrongMD campaign surpassed this target).
The money has been used to purchase items for the Sick Kids “Sponsor A Family” program, SickKids VS campaign, and to give toys to children on Christmas morning and to stock new ones in the pre-operative care units.
Knowing that her campaign has allowed children to play, and made life a little easier for their families, brings joy to Britney.
Since her campaign began, she was also able to pay for 20 families to stay at Ronald McDonald House each year during the holidays. A home away from home for families to stay close to their children who are receiving care in a hospital.
Britney’s aunt has told her how proud Mikey is of everything that she has done.
Britney appreciates all of the support that she has received to do her good deeds through the strength that she receives from her cousin.
She says, “there are days that are rough, but hope is all we need, and I will never stop believing in that for Mikey.”
To contribute to LivingstrongMD, www.britneycolussi.wixsite.com/livingstrongmd