Castlegar's own Squires brothers set new bar for community giving, despite tender years
When you think ‘hometown hero’, what comes to mind is rarely someone under the age of six.
But Jaxon Squires, at five, and his brother Ryder, almost three, are confounding expectations and living up to the designation, selling their own toys to raise funds for the new BC Children’s Hospital.
“They started in January – we launched the Facebook page and the link on the hospital site at the end of January,” said Mom Jesse Squires. “They had raised the (hoped-for) $1,000 in just over 24 hours.
“It was very emotional, awe-inspiring. It blew us away, the support was just amazing.”
Allegiance to the Children’s Hospital is a matter of great import to both boys, as Jaxon stood by and helped out while his kid brother Ryder, as an infant, fought for his very life.
“Ryder was born at 35 weeks and went into respiratory distress in his first 24 hours of life. He wasn’t responding to any of the treatment in Nelson with all their efforts,” Jesse explained, praising Nelson medical staff, but saying there wasn’t the equipment available here to save Ryder. “The respiratory tech was able to keep Ryder alive while we waited to be airlifted back to Children’s. Ryder was intubated for the first three days and underwent a lot of tests, which lead his medical team to diagnose him with Pulmonary Hypertention. He was put on a ventilator and treated with nitric oxide. (It was) unknown if he would have troubles with walking, talking or even losing his hearing or sight. Ryder has beaten all these odd and is full of life. He still goes back for checkups. We thank BC Children’s every day and all the help from the medical staff in Nelson.”
Linking fundraising through the BC Children’s website created the option of cash receipts for people who didn’t need or want the toys, but many came to purchase toys, too.
“We’ve had people come from as far away as Fruitvale and New Denver, and a lot of people have shared their stories with us, too, which is really nice,” she said, admitting the original idea was hers, but the kids were all over it. “When I suggested to Jaxon that he could sell his toys to raise money for the hospital, Jaxon ran straight to his room to look for stuff.”
Things just kind of snowballed from there.
Dad Rob Squires works with the Saints, so when he asked if they could help get the word out, the Saints were welcoming and generous: the boys got to drop the puck at a game against SFU, and set up a table to raise money and awareness.
“The players even came up to the boys and congratulated them, which was wonderful for them,” Jesse said.
Although the original goal was to raise $1,000, the family decided to keep going until they go back to the hospital for Ryder’s follow-up appointment this summer, and have raised $1,894 at last count.
“Jaxon started painting rocks to sell to raise money,” Jesse said, giggling, admitting she thinks it’s hilarious and charming that he has actually sold perhaps four or five rocks, so far.
Of course, all this means a lot of work for her.
“Sure, it’s a lot of work, but it’s something we feel very strongly about – it’s our way to give back, and to teach our kids about all of this,” she said. “I’m very proud of the boys, very proud.”
She also said she’s touched and deeply grateful for the support they have received in their efforts, and offered thanks to everyone who purchased, donated or helped spread the word.