Variety steps up to help Cowichan Valley family

Athena Maurer chokes up with emotion when she talks about the ongoing medical struggles her six-year-old daughter Morgan continues to face.

Athena Maurer chokes up with emotion when she talks about the ongoing medical struggles her six-year-old daughter Morgan continues to face.

But it’s the help of the family’s community in the Cowichan Valley, and Variety-The Children’s Charity, that have stepped up to the plate to help Morgan and her loved ones through their health ordeal that mean so much to Athena.

Morgan began exhibiting weakness in her right arm in late 2014 and within a couple of days, she had lost use of her arm and both legs and couldn’t even sit up on her own.

After tests in local hospitals, Morgan was sent to the BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver where it was soon discovered that she had contracted a virus called EVD68, which causes sudden and unexplained muscle weakness and paralysis.

Morgan spent more than two weeks in isolation at the hospital before being transferred to Vancouver’s Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children where she began rehabilitation sessions five days a week.

The family stayed by Morgan’s side during her treatments in Vancouver, which saw Athena and husband Greg having to take significant time away from their jobs, and that’s when Variety- The Children’s Charity entered the scene.

Variety steps in where health care ends to provide direct help to children in B.C. with special medical needs.

Athena said a social worker at Sunny Hill arranged for Variety to review Morgan’s case, and the charity agreed to help out.

“Our accommodations in Vancouver were paid for and that allowed our family to stay together at that time,” she said.

“When we finally came home, Variety agreed to pay for the physical and occupational therapy that Morgan still needs. She still has lots of physical struggles ahead but she shouldn’t get any worse, and the ongoing therapy will make her as strong as she can be.”

Providing services like what is being provided for Morgan and her family takes a significant amount of money, and Variety has been holding a telethon for almost 50 years to help with the fundraising.

The 2017 Show of Hearts Telethon will be held on Feb. 12 on Global TV.

Money raised from the annual telethon helps fund programs at organizations like the BC Children’s Hospital, Canuck Place and neonatal intensive care units in hospitals across B.C., as well as helping families like the Maurers.

“We want to tell stories that will reflect the core purpose of Variety, which is to inspire donors to help all children who have special needs in B.C. and the Yukon to fulfill their potential so they can focus on the important things, like being kids,” said Kristy Gill, CEO of Variety BC.

Athena said she couldn’t imagine how her family could have dealt with Morgan’s health issues without the assistance of Variety.

“We owe Variety so much,” she said.

“We want to send out a huge thank you to Variety and the community as a whole who stepped up to assist. It’s not easy to ask for help, and we appreciate all the generosity that helped us and Morgan.”

Donations to Variety can be made online at, toll free by telephone at 310-KIDS or by texting “KIDS” to 45678 to make an automatic $20 contribution.