A local family credits their faith, their family and their friends for supporting them when their baby son fell ill — and to a local charity for providing a little bit of home.
The Kehlers will be slapping on their big floppy shoes for the fourth annual Red Shoe Crew Walk, happening Sunday at the University of Manitoba, in support of Ronald McDonald House.
Jeremy and Jinelle Kehler were overwhelmed when their son Karsen was diagnosed with collapsed lungs and kidney damage shortly after he was born in 2016.
"You just take all this information in and then for me, I'll go away and have a good cry, and I'm like, OK, I can do this," said Jinelle.
But with three other children at home and an extended stay at the Health Sciences Centre for Karsen, it became a challenge to put together any semblance of normal family time, said Jinelle.
As Jinelle watched helplessly, unable to hold her newborn while his lungs healed, Jeremy was run off his feet trying to keep the family together and be there for his wife and newborn son.
A week into Karsen's recovery, Jeremy brought their three other children to the hospital.
"I brought lunch or supper in and I brought the three other kids, and they quickly realized that … the kids aren't exactly the most quiet group. As much as we tried to keep them settled and keep them quiet and reserved, no, it wasn't happening," said Jeremy.
So staff suggested the hospital's Ronald McDonald room. Familiar with Ronald McDonald House, the Kehlers were surprised the hospital had a room where families could gather and share a meal, play with toys or just be together.
"It was like a freedom for us," said Jeremy. "That I know if I bring all the kids, they're in a place where they have computers and there's Wi-Fi and there's toys and they can be louder and they can run around and we'd have a place where we all can … spend some time together."
Karsen is not fully healthy yet, as the now rambunctious toddler has to undergo dialysis overnight, every night, and is fed through a tube. This means more hospital visits, but he is doing much better, said Jinelle.
"Sometimes it's not easy, but it's something that we know we will get through and I think ultimately we're better for our family because of it," said Jeremy.
"The joy that he brings to us — and sometimes the grief. He just coloured our living room with crayon," he laughed.
The Red Shoe Crew Walk takes place at 1 p.m. Sunday. Registration can be done as a walk-up and is $25 for adults, and $5 for kids.