Quilt made from love for a little girl

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If Melanie Finnimore's name rings bells, that's because of a wave of local publicity last fall for her baby, Joy.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/01/2016 (2408 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If Melanie Finnimore’s name rings bells, that’s because of a wave of local publicity last fall for her baby, Joy.

Joy Finnimore, now nine months old, was born last spring with a rare condition that required her to be hooked up to a breathing tube and a stomach tube.

Doctors publicized the story in a series of interviews with Joy’s mother, in their search for a treatment.

French immersion teacher Annick Bordeaux with students at James Nisbet Community School.

In September, Joy’s reality, showing her world within the four walls at the Children’s Hospital intensive care unit, went public.

This story is about the wave of kindness in response, from families with children born with the same condition, even an adult or two who’ve courageously carved out normal lives despite it.

Some have formed lasting friendships with the young mother, drawing the Finnimores into their family circles.

Melanie Finnimore and her daughter Joy.

Just before the Christmas break, a teacher reached out with a story of her own.

Annick Bordeaux and her Grade 2 French immersion class at James Nisbet Community School had a gift for little Joy, a handmade quilt, made by her and her 20 students.

“I have read your story about the Finnimore family and shared it with my class… They wanted to make a quilt for her… Well, it is done, and we would love to give it to her. Can you help us find out where she is so that I could drop it off to her mom? Or maybe I could drop it off at the hospital directly to her?” Bordeaux wanted to know.

Finnimore picked up on the first couple of rings, listened to the story about the quilt, and there was a pause.

To say the quilt touched her would be an understatement.

“Is that ever nice,” Finnimore said.

Bordeaux met with the Finnimores just before Christmas to give them the quilt.

Joy, meanwhile, is still sick but her indomitable spirit remains her mother’s greatest joy.

“She’s stable, growing; everything is developing the way it would for any baby,” Finnimore said. That includes the cystic hygroma, the rare condition she was born with.

The most common complication is disfigurement from large growths around the neck and chin. They’re growing along with her.

“We’re just kind of waiting now for another surgery,” Finnimore said. Doctors call it debulking, and the next procedure to remove the growths will probably happen in the spring.

At James Nisbet Community School, with the quilt opened up for display, one child after another shyly explained the pictures they drew on the patches.

They’re all personal messages.

Francine Ocampo drew a sun, music notes and stars: “I want her to stay alive.”

Jacob Colada drew a heart, a house and a little girl: “I want her to go back home.”

Dayna Cherney did stars, hearts, a happy face and music notes: “I thought she’d like those things.”

Colton Rioux did a sunflower and Joy playing outside with butterflies: “I thought she might like nature.”

“There was a lot of that; they were thinking about what she hadn’t seen,” said their teacher. Bringing the outdoors inside was one way to convey their empathy.

Lots of grade schools devote time to teach the virtues of empathy, to show children the way they feel and care for others makes a difference.

Bordeaux usually does this lesson with a big charity bake and jewelry sale at Christmas.

In the last eight years, her class has raised thousands of dollars for charities such as Siloam Mission and World Vision.

The quilt was created instead of holding a sale this year.

“The patches, they’re all about something that’s about showing love,” Bordeaux said. The school’s motto is peace, and every letter of the word stands for a separate virtue: P is for polite, E for empathy, A for acts of kindness, C is co-operate and E is everyone counts.

The patches pick up on the motto. “That motto is what we live by,” Bordeaux said.

“When I first heard about the story, it touched me. I went home after I read the story, and I hugged my two boys.

“Then I talked to the students and read them the story. I asked them what they wanted to do, and the students said they wanted to show Joy they’re thinking about her.”

Bordeaux also sews, so the idea for a quilt moved quickly after that.

“They wanted that little girl to know someone is thinking about her, and her mom, too,” Bordeaux said.

The empathy, the feelings, this teacher and her 20 students sewed into a quilt for a baby with a life-threatening condition is something the Finnimores can keep forever.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

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