The Sunshine Foundation of Canada was established in 1987 by a London, Ontario police officer as a legacy to his son who passed away from muscular dystrophy. He wanted children like his son to be able to live their dreams. By 1990, Sunshine was a national charitable organization.
One year later, on December 24th, 1991, when I was 14, my family was involved in a head-on collision. Out of 7 people, only my mother and I survived. My mother received severe injuries to her head and body. The seatbelt cut through my body, severing many organs and my spinal-cord. I became paraplegic. My father died.
I was devastated. I lost my family, the use of my legs, my schooling, and childhood friends. I lost my dreams of becoming the next LPGA female champion. I lost everything. I was alone. I spent my days just surviving after the accident, without a hope for the future. I just got from the start of one day to the end of it.
Years later, a nurse told me about Sunshine and that they granted dreams to kids who have a severe physical disability or a life-threatening illness. I applied to meet Roseanne Barr. I had just read her biography about how she overcame an accident and started a career despite the people who said her brain injury was too bad.
I went to Hollywood, met her and other celebrities, and really saw how things worked in the film and television industry. By the end of my 5 days, my life changed – I knew a future I wanted. I wanted to become a writer for film, television, novels… anything entertaining that would evoke emotion.
So, I did. I came back with purpose. I was no longer just surviving, I was creating something for myself. I now have one published novel and one in process. I have a short film heading into the festival circuit soon. And I have two full feature International-award-winning films with established directors attached.
But more than this, I got back something I lost. I now have a family in Sunshine. I have a place where I belong again. To this day, I still volunteer with them, front-running the volunteer network here in Northern Ontario.
Two groups saved me from the horrors of my accident: the medical teams who saved my life and the Sunshine staff who saved my soul. I don’t think there is another charity out there that can do this kind of magic. They took a broken, lonely, hurt, little girl who lost everything, and gave her a life that she could not only be proud of, but one that she felt safe and loved in. They are deserving of every award that is out there.
The police officer truly did leave a legacy for his son. I know I’ll never forget the gift I was given. Any money donated would go to doing the same for other kids. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?
A video of Sarah’s story.
Learn more about Sunshine Foundation of Canada