A major Christmas donation event took place at the Cochrane Toyota dealership Sunday, including to a family that has been supported by the community through a rare surgery.
Around 400 German-designed sleds were handed out to families from Cochrane, Calgary and the surrounding areas.
“We’re just delighted that we’re able to do this today,” Alex Baum of Cochrane Toyota said.
Baum said the dealership decided to donate the sleds as a way to give back this season, which has been especially hard on some families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Certainly some of the homes, it’s going to add to an already exciting Christmas,” he said. “But for some homes that may be the only gift that home gets.”
Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung was also on hand to help with the donation drive.
“This is incredible,” Genung said. “The Christmas spirit, everything that COVID has taken away from us, it has not taken the magic away from Christmas in Cochrane.”
One of the families that was invited to the event Sunday was the Mitchell family of four from Okotoks.
Their three-year-old daughter Lukah went through five organ transplants last year.
“Cochane Toyota supported us [through the surgeries],” said Lukah’s mother, Tanis Mitchell. “They brought us all Christmas presents, for the whole family two years ago.
“They totally supported our family, they’ve been talking to us every year.”
Lukah had a benign tumour removed when she was just over a year old, but complications from the surgery resulted in her needing a multi-visceral transplant, which included a new liver, intestines, arteries and parts of her stomach and colon. The life-saving organ donation came just before Christmas in 2018. Both the donation and the surgery, which took place at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, are rare.
Alberta toddler receives life-saving organ transplant
Her father Cody said because her surgery happened around the holidays, it’s always a time the family takes to appreciate what they have.
“With COVID going on… I just am super blessed to have the whole family together and be under one roof… not spending it in the hospital,” he said.
“Every Christmas it’s a huge milestone,” Tanis said. “[Lukah is] doing amazing. The first year post-transplant was really hard… now she’s doing amazing. She’s like any other three-year-old.”
The family said that they’re excited to take out the sled.
“We’re excited for more snow,” Tanis said. “With Christmas being different this year, not being able to see much family and friends we’re excited for more activities.”
Lukah also has an older sister, Berlynn.
–With files from Carolyn Kury de Castillo, Global News
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