All 10-year-old Raija Paul wanted for her birthday was to give back.
Raija launched a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House on her 10th birthday last week Tuesday, Oct. 6.
“It brought me to tears,” said Raija’s grandmother Zena Chelsea.
“Ronald McDonald House did a lot for our family, and for Raija to give back that just shows she appreciates it, and that’s something she came up with herself.”
Raija’s uncle Nicholas (Nick) Paul of the Esk’etemc First Nation south of Williams Lake was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010. For two years the family was able to stay close by Nick’s side through Ronald McDonald House as he received treatments at the B.C.’s Children Hospital in Vancouver. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 16 in 2012.
Less than seven years later, the family would once again find themselves at Ronald McDonald House in January 2019 as Raija’s youngest uncle Tyson Paul almost lost his life to ANCA vasculitis. The rare autoimmune disease put him on the transplant list after rendering his kidneys useless.
It was not until this year on Aug. 5 Tyson would receive a kidney transplant after countless rounds of hemodialysis.
“We always have conversations around how grateful we are for the extra support our family has been given because in the past 10 years we, as a family, had to stay close to B.C. Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House has been a huge part of our family’s lives,” said Raija’s mother Synthia Paul.
Since 1983, Ronald McDonald House has provided housing for families needing to travel long distances to receive specialized care in Vancouver for their sick child. Without Ronald McDonald House, Chelsea said they would have had to likely stay in a hotel.
Late Friday, Oct. 9 Tyson would receive his final surgical procedure to remove his hemodialysis catheter before being sent home.
Through her birthday fundraiser Raija hopes to be able to sponsor 100 nights of stays. Ronald McDonald House charges families a nominal fee of $12 per night.
As of Oct. 13, Raija has raised $725.