Left to right are Frank, Gracie and Kerri

The Horvat Family

Gracie’s mother, Kerri, describes her daughter’s story:

The one thing that I can say about life is that you never know what the future brings. It is hard to imagine when you look at Gracie today that at birth, she weighed over 9 pounds. Now she weighs 42 pounds, wears a size 4 and will be turning 8 years old in a few months. Gracie has an undiagnosed metabolic disorder that causes severe abdominal pain, night sweats and intestinal problems. Although she has the appetite of a teenage boy, she constantly struggles to gain weight. But Gracie never lets this slow her down! She loves to cook with her dad, a chef, and wants to be a food scientist when she grows up.

I was first introduced to Irving Oil’s Fuel to Care Program when I was an Irving Oil retail site supervisor in Welsford, NB, where we live. I was a huge supporter of the program and what it gives to families but I never once thought that we would need to use it!

Gracie’s intestinal problems started when she was a little over 3 years old and were often thought of as flu type symptoms. Quickly we realized that it was much more and began the long road to answers. Then on the morning of July 2, 2010 Gracie would not fully wake up. It was around 9:30am and I thought how strange that she was not running down the stairs asking for her favourite oatmeal breakfast. I dismissed it with the thought she had too much excitement on Canada Day. When I went up to wake her I knew then we had a problem and loaded her in the car and off we drove the 45 minutes to the Saint John Regional Hospital. Scared and frustrated with the comment of the flu once again from the on duty doctor, we stuck to our guns to be the voice for our daughter and further tests were done. Gracie was admitted with ketoses.

Our family doctor and specialist were fantastic and introduced us to the Fuel to Care program. I smiled and explained I was aware of the program but it was not until that moment that I truly understood the magnitude of what it means to the family! She knew the financial stress we were under and knew what a difference it would make. It gave us hope!

Now we are waiting for Gracie to travel back to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, a 4 ½ hour trip from our home to have biopsies taken to hopefully tell us the cause. Hope keeps us moving forward and Irving Oil’s Fuel to Care program gives us strength in knowing we are not alone!