Two Charities, One Purpose

In case you missed it, on Apr 14, 2018, the Bodman Family attended Variety’s 40th Anniversary Gold Heart Gala. One of our Rehab Counsellors, Stephanie Semotok, had the honour to work closely with the Bodman’s and Variety, the Children’s Charity of Manitoba to plan a very special surprise gift for them. Before we jump to the surprise, we’d like to take a moment to thank Variety for the incredible work they do. In the spirit of cherishing and promoting our collaborative working relationship in support of children, youth, and their families across the province we would like to share this beautiful story with you…trust us, it’s worth reading.

Enter Stephanie:

Braelynn Bodman is a beautiful and delightful two-year-old girl who was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) shortly after her first birthday. It is considered a rare genetic neuromuscular disease that affects missing genes in the spinal cord that provide proteins vital for keeping cells alive for voluntary movement. In SMA, these cells die, making those affected unable to use their muscles.  Braelynn has an amazingly strong and courageous family, willing to do anything they can to support her to live her life to the fullest. I began working with the family in Jan of 2018. Vehicle and home modifications have been a focus of our planning, and they were so grateful to have support to plan for meeting these needs for Braelynn, as they were experiencing significant stress in considering how this could all be possible. 

I supported the family to submit an application to Variety’s Special Needs Committee for grant funding in the amount of $5,000 in support of the purchase of an accessible vehicle (without them knowing that it was actually for the full vehicle). This committee unanimously chose the Bodman Family, and so the work began to determine the plan to be able to get them to the Gala event without knowing about the surprise gift! Variety gave me four tickets to their Gala as a gift to thank me for my hard work and dedication to connecting so many families with them, and were going to recognize me at the Gala. This was our, “cover story” so that I could invite the family to join me as my guests, introduce them to Variety’s Special Needs Committee members and we could network with other families, etc. They were so honoured to be invited and agreed with the importance of reaching out to Variety and meeting other families because they knew they would benefit from enhancing their support network as well. The plan worked! They joined me at the Gala and the surprise went perfectly…please watch the unbelievable moment when the announcement was made and the family realized why they were truly there! [see video below]

The Bodman’s encourage others to pay it forward as well as strive to continue working towards advocating for not only children with SMA but for people of all abilities across Manitoba. It was hard for them to accept such an incredible gift as they are more comfortable being in the role of helping others but this experience gave them insight into how this gift will actually help so many others to come just by hearing their story. Things like this really do happen and this is why people should support organizations like ours and Variety! They are so thankful to receive support and services through us and though the family and I will always have a special bond having been through this experience together, I know that the impact of our organization’s involvement will be far-reaching and very meaningful as well. There truly aren’t words to express how amazing this experience was and I am forever in awe of what we can accomplish when we work together and let our passion lead the path to change.

Kindest Regards,


To learn more about Variety, click here!

To learn more about how you can support families like The Bodman’s click here!