A family tragedy inspires one child to help others in one very special, sweet way, proving that personal loss doesn’t always have to define our ability to give
After their home went up in flames in March 2018, the Hickey family of North River, Conception Bay North, moved to Bay Roberts while their new home was being built.
Rhonda and Craig Hickey’s eight-year-old daughter Skye found a silver lining in the move. While the family’s home in North River was in a secluded area with no nearby neighbours, their temporary home in Bay Roberts was smack dab in the middle of a subdivision.
Skye saw having nearby neighbours as an opportunity for her to help families with sick children. Those living nearby would be potential customers for a hot chocolate and cookie sale, the child thought. She wasn’t far off the mark.
Skye held her sale in early December 2018 – just weeks before the family moved back into their newly built home in North River.
Ronald McDonald House
Skye’s sale of hot chocolate, coffee, cookies, candy canes and chocolate balls was in aid of Ronald McDonald House NL.
Ronald McDonald House provides a home for families of sick children who have to travel to St. John’s for their child to receive medical care.
Skye has a five-year-old brother, Seagan. Seagan has Down Syndrome and, although he’s a healthy child, he is seen regularly by health care professionals at the Janeway for various therapies. Fortunately, the family lives near enough to St. John’s to return home after medical appointments.
“Skye has been on this journey with us the past five years. She’s really soft-hearted. She’s seen so many sick children at the Janeway and she’d said to me so often, ‘Mommy, I think there are so many sad stories that could be told if you talk to people at the Janeway,’” Rhonda recalled.
Skye knew she wanted to do something to help families just like the ones she’s met at the Janeway during her brother’s appointments.
“She knew Ronald McDonald House provided accommodations and meals to people who live far away and can’t travel back and forth every day. And she knew, right away, that she wanted to do something to help them,” Rhonda said.
Skye’s sale brought in $72.50. She donated the money to Ronald McDonald House in St. John’s in January. Staff at Ronald McDonald House made Skye’s fundraising efforts one she won’t soon forget, her mother said.
“They made a big deal of Skye. They gave her a Hero Ribbon and she wore it to school the next day. She’s so proud of it,” Rhonda said.
Skye is a Grade Three student at All Hallows Elementary School in North River. When her teacher saw the ribbon and asked about her project Skye and Rhonda gave a short presentation to the class. Rhonda feels she and Craig are blessed with having two loving children.
“Seagan is only five but he’s taught us more in those five years than we could ever teach him. And Skye is so gentle with her brother, she’s always trying to find ways to teach him things,” Rhonda said.
Christine Morgan is director, development and communications with Ronald McDonald House NL. Morgan said staff at Ronald McDonald House are “incredibly humbled” by the generosity of children like Skye.
“Kids showing such compassion for other kids at such a young age is a very honorable characteristic,” she said.
Morgan said there are many children like Skye who believe deeply in the mission of Ronald McDonald House and donate their birthday money, allowances and money they raised from their own fundraisers such as Skye’s hot chocolate stand.
It’s important for Ronald McDonald House to recognize such outstanding young individuals, she said, who don’t let their age discourage them from making a difference in the lives of sick children and their families.
“As part of our stewardship program we have what we call the RMHC Young Heroes Club. We recognize these type of donations with a collection of ribbons to honour the generosity of these young people who give to help keep families close to each other and (get) the care and resources they need, when they need it the most.”