In each “Behind the Scenes” segment, Village Media's Scott Sexsmith sits down with one of our local journalists to talk about the story behind the story.
These interviews are designed to help you better understand how our community-based reporters gather the information that lands in your local news feed. You can find more Behind the Scenes from reporter across Ontario here.
Today's spotlight is on Nikki Cole, whose story 'Business bakes up support for Barrie girl receiving cancer treatment' was published on Feb 2.
Below is the full story, in case you missed it.
A Barrie couple received a sweet surprise recently after learning a local small-business owner was hosting a fundraiser to help cover some expenses after their youngest child was diagnosed with cancer last year.
Sophie Rennie, owner of Sweet and Sassie Bake Shop, launched the online fundraiser in mid-January after one of her customers told her about Abby.
Renniesasid she was contacted by a member of Abby’s family a few weeks ago with the idea of creating a fundraiser for the youngster and her family.
“When she presented me with the idea and asked for my help, there was no question that my answer wasn’t going to be yes! I don’t personally know Abby and her family, but that didn’t matter to me. I wanted to help this family who lives in our community,” she said.
Together, the came up with the perfect fundraiser: Cookies For Abby — where people were able to pre-order a box of 10 cookies for $25 where 100 per cent of the proceeds would go to the Posie family.
“The night before posting the details of our fundraiser, we talked about our goal of selling 40 boxes. Within 25 minutes (of the post), we had achieved that goal. But it didn’t feel right to stop taking orders already," Rennie said. "My phone was blowing up all day with people messaging me about wanting to place an order or donate and I really couldn’t believe it.
“I had a good feeling inside of me that we would hit 40 boxes, but I had no idea I would be getting this many messages. It’s really so amazing seeing our community come together for this family.”
After about five days of the post being on social media, Rennie was at max capacity.
“Many people kept messaging me asking how I was going to bake this many cookies, but I was excited. This is what I love to do and it’s extra special knowing it’s raising money for a family who is struggling,” she said.
“I really can’t thank everyone enough. Between the people who donated toward the cost of some supplies, businesses that donated and everyone who ordered a box, I’m so thankful for everyone’s support to make this fundraiser such a success."
The support this fundraiser received has left the family struggling to find words to express just what it means to them, admitted Crystal Posie, Abby's mother.
“I have never even met Sophie! She’s my cousin’s sister-in-law. (They) got together and decided to do a cookie drive to help support Abby," Crystal said. "I just know she’s like 19 and does baking on the side because she enjoys doing it. It’s crazy.
"I don’t think she was expecting the (response), because it definitely was a lot more than 40 boxes of cookies. It sold out four times," she added.
Crystal and Abby are currently living at Ronald McDonald House (RMHC) in Toronto as the toddler undergoes radiation therapy after her neuroblastoma diagnosis — a cancer that starts in immature nerve cells — in April 2023.
The youngster has already undergone multiple treatments, including chemotherapy and two stem-cell transplants.
“The mass is on her adrenal glands. We were doing a resection surgery and we actually found out that the mass was a lot bigger than they originally thought and had attached itself to her pancreas," Crystal said. "They couldn’t remove the tumour because it would be way too dangerous. It’s been quite an intense nine months.”
Despite all of that, Abby is doing well, added her mother, and still enjoying all of the things she loves, including playing dress up with her toys, making tea and food in her play kitchen — and even playing doctor with her toy stethoscope.
“She’s honestly amazing. You’d never know,” said Crystal, who described her daughter as a happy, playful and kind kid. “Today was Day 4 out of 12 (for radiation) and she’s full of beans and just your normal three-and-a-half-year-old wanting to go outside and play.”
Crystal, who works as a self-employed registered massage therapist in Barrie, has been off work since the spring — and her husband was off on stress leave for several months following Abby’s diagnosis — in order to care for Abby, who often spends weeks at a time at SickKids Hospital in Toronto.
That has taken an significant toll on the family, both emotionally and financially, she acknowledged. Money donated through the fundraiser will be used to help cover bills and other expenses, such as gas to get Abby to and from the hospital when they are not at RMHC.
“It’s been very challenging and very hard being away. It’s like having your family split … and not by your own choice,” she said.
Although Crystal says she doesn’t yet know how much was raised, she said her family is beyond grateful for all of the support.
“A lot of people that we don’t even know have been very, very kind to us,” she said, fighting back tears. “It’s been really overwhelming with people just trying to help support our family in many different ways.
"We are just so grateful.”