Ashley Aitchison has a much easier time putting her son Remi in their special Sunshine Family Van, a gift last October from Variety, the Children’s Charity. (Mark Brett/Western News)

Families often reach out to Variety as ‘last resort’

Variety CEO tells about the work of the Children’s Charity

Too often, it’s only as a “last resort” that families desperately in need reach out to Variety, the Children’s Charity.

“And that’s where we step in,” said Variety CEO Cally Wesson, who describes her job as more of a passion. “And that’s what’s great about Variety. We’re there when they need us most.

“Being a mom is a difficult job. Being the mom of a special needs child is, well, I can’t even imagine, so we’re there to take some of that burden off of someone, whether that’s a mom or a dad. It’s huge.”

It has been an ongoing relationship between Variety and Penticton’s Ashley Aitchison, the single mom of two boys, one of who, six-year-old Remi, has cerebral palsy, mobility and developmental disabilities.

Variety has been a part of the Aitchison’s lives for the past three years, providing them with many thousands of dollars in equipment they could never dream of buying on their own.

Last year, it was a new, specially-equipped Sunshine Family Van.

“She’s (Ashley) so grateful as a mom with chronic back pain and not having to lift her son in and out of a wheelchair,” said Wesson. “The first years, it’s easy to move them in and out. But as the child becomes 60 pounds, and with kids with autism, seizure disorders or anything like that, it becomes even more difficult as is the case with Remi.

“The fact she can just go to the grocery store, something that you and I take for granted, for a mom with a special needs child, that’s nearly impossible. Now she can just live life in a normal way.”

This Sunday is the 53rd annual Show of Hearts Telethon, Variety’s largest fundraiser, which allows the organization to help families like the Aitchisons throughout the Okanagan and the rest of the province.

“We’ve had people volunteering for 53 years. We’ve become part of people’s lives and it has become part of the history of B.C.,” said Wesson.

The telethon runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Global BC and all the money raised stays in B.C. and Yukon.

“One of the things that I personally totally love about my job is that every day we help a child and a family. That’s just such a nice feeling, we’re B.C.’s charity,” said Wesson. “We help families all the way up to Bella Coola and in communities like Penticton we’re there, we’re there to help.”



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