Taylor girl tallying kilometres, funds for Ronald McDonald House

Looking to keep fit this summer while supporting a good cause? A young girl from Taylor is assembling teams to help raise funds to support families staying at Ronald McDonald House in June.

Sarah Byford, 9, has been picked as the local ambassador for the agency’s Step Up For Families fundraising challenge. Residents are encouraged to sign up in teams, or individually, to walk, cycle, or run 73 kilometres throughout the month while helping Byford raise funds for the charity.

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“People can join as a team, work team, or alone,” says mom Amy Byford.

“Sarah is doing a team, and she has been practicing daily. She has a $500 goal,” says mom Amy Byford. “I hope we can share and show them how amazing our town is. Lots from our area use the House.”

The 73 kilometres represents the 73-room House for parents and siblings of children requiring care at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. Each participant or team is challenged to raise a minimum of $125, which covers the cost of one family staying at the House for one night.

“We are so excited to launch Step Up for Families this summer, and give people the opportunity to help families with sick children simply by spending time outdoors,” said Sunshine Purificacion, director of community development for Ronald McDonald House British Columbia and Yukon.

“No matter where you live, you can join in as we go the (social) distance to support 2,000 families every year who rely on RMH BC for accommodation, guidance and compassion during an extremely difficult and stressful time.”

To learn more and register a team, click here.

Young Sarah has now raised $13,000 over the last three years in support of sick kids and the charities that help them.

Instead of asking for presents for her ninth birthday, Sarah asked for donations to support the Ronald McDonald House instead, and raised $500. And last Christmas, Sarah spent her time volunteering at the House to help collect toys and wrap gifts for children.

It's a cause dear to her heart — literally.

Byford underwent surgery last year to repair a hole in her heart, a condition known as atrial septal defect. Her heart was also enlarged, around four times the size it should have been — doctors said young Sarah's heart was like an NFL player's constantly because it was working so hard.

Byford was diagnosed when she was only five and had to wait for two years to have her surgery. But that didn't stop her from taking action, holding her first lemonade stand and teddy bear fundraiser in the rain in July 2017, raising $1,800 and 250 bears for the Children's Hospital Foundation in Victoria.

She's raised thousands more since, from bottle drives to setting up a hot chocolate stand shortly after moving to the Peace region with her family in October 2018.

“When covid started, Sarah bought 200 gift cards with her own money to send to the House as they’re struggling,” Amy said. “She wanted to help.”

Sarah is also continuing to sell personalized, hand-designed golf towels in support of both the House and the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation. They can be found at Lone Wolf and the Trading Post in Taylor, and Amy says they are also looking for a place in Fort St. John where they can be sold.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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