Thaddeus Flannigan is a big brother three times over – as of last week – and increasing his strength and mobility are now all the more critical for this eight-year-old Langley City lad.
He already has a four-year-old younger brother, Darcy, as well as a 22-month-old brother Jimmy – and does much to help his mother Candice Welch and his father Garrett Flannigan take care of his younger siblings.
Less than a week ago now, those duties increased, when Thaddeus became (two weeks early) a proud big brother to his new little sister, six-pound nine-ounce Violet.
With his increased family responsibilities, plus his desire to excel in a variety of competitive sports, this Grade 2 Uplands Elementary student is “extremely grateful” to Variety for all they’ve done to assist him in achieving these goals.
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And it’s no surprise that Variety is a topic of discussion in his family’s household this week – ahead of the annual fundraising telethon happening this weekend in Coquitlam.
Variety – and this weekend’s Show of Hearts telethon – have helped Thaddeus in ways they probably don’t even realize, said his mother.
The biggest assistance has come in the form of giving Thaddeus’ increased strength and mobility – allowing him to play wheelchair basketball, sledge hockey, and racing, Candice said.
The oldest of four children, Thaddeus was born premature at 31 weeks and weighed only four pounds.
Joint contractures at birth prevented him from straightening his arms and legs. He spent two weeks at BC Children’s Hospital followed by another six weeks at Royal Columbian Hospital before finally coming home.
Thaddeus has what mother describes as central core myopathy – a disease weakening his muscles.
“His condition affects the way his muscles strengthen. He has had four hip surgeries, ongoing physiotherapy, and pool therapy. Thaddeus wears a back brace to hold his spine from progressing and he will need surgery on his spine eventually.”
So far, in large part thanks to the assistance of Variety – The Children’s Charity, he’s received extra therapy needed to build his strength.
The charity has also assisted with extra costs for foot and back braces that are not fully covered, Mom elaborated.
And Variety’s efforts to help Thaddeus go even further, Candice added, explaining why the charity organizers might not even realize the breadth of help they’ve given to Thaddeus through the years.
Variety supports an organization called Let’s Play program, which is run through the BC Wheelchair Sports Association.
“They have supplied Thaddeus with a sports chair, so he is able to play wheelchair basketball and actively participate in gym at school,” a grateful mother elaborated.
“Without the help of Variety, Thaddeus wouldn’t be the strong and independent boy he is now,” she said.
“There is nothing he can’t do.”
While Thaddeus has never attended the annual telethon, and doesn’t expect to be in this year’s audience, he has helped out in different Variety campaigns and expects to keep assisting – where possible.
Recently, for instance, he was featured on Variety’s golden heart pin display and he periodically speaks at various Variety fundraisers.
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Variety hosted its 51st Show of Hearts this weekend, raising a little more than $5 million.
The telethon, which featured a large variety of entertainers including Langley’s own Dallas Smith, was changed to a one-day format and broadcast live Sunday, Feb. 12 from the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam.
“It was exciting, it was moving, it was humbling – the whole day was almost overwhelming,” says Variety BC chief executive officer, Kristy Gill.
“I am completely blown away by the generosity of our donors. The funds we raised today are going to help kids in communities across British Columbia to walk, to speak, to learn … I’m so proud of our Variety team, all of our partners, and everyone else who contributed to make this day such as success for kids with special needs and their families.”
For those who missed the Show of Hearts, it’s not too late to help. Donations can still be made online at variety.bc.ca, toll free by phone at 310-KIDS, or by texting “KIDS” to 45678 to make an automatic $20 contribution.
Funds raised from the annual showcase will go towards helping children – like Thaddeus – with special needs all across British Columbia.