B.C. mom Susi Vander Wyk was crowned Walmart Canada's 2013 Mom Of The Year at a glitzy awards ceremony in Toronto on Monday.
Walmart received almost 25,000 nominations for this year's award, which were narrowed down to eight finalists including Chilliwack's Vander Wyk. A mother of three, her daughter Holli was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) at the age of two.
Since then, Vander Wyk has founded a support group for parents of children with disabilities, fundraised tirelessly for Families Of Spinal Muscular Atrophy Canada, and has run a summer camp for the past 13 years for affected families. She has been the president of Families Of SMA for the past two years.
"We are thrilled to bring the Mom of the Year Award back for a second year," Shelley Broader, president and CEO of Walmart Canada, said in a statement. "Once again, it has been an inspiring journey to review all the amazing stories of admirable women from across this nation."
Vander Wyk's award includes a donation of $100,000 to her charity of choice, Families Of SMA Canada, plus $10,000 for herself. The seven other finalists' charities of choice also receive $10,000. Singers Chantal Kreviazuk and Nikki Yanofsky performed at the event as well.
Read about all the finalists for Mom Of The Year in the slideshow below:
Susi Vander Wyk
Susi Vander Wyk from Chilliwack, B.C. was named Walmart Canada's 2013 Mom Of The Year for her tireless work in support of Families Of Spinal Muscular Atrophy Canada. Here, she is pictured with her husband, Bruce and three children, Dexter, Holli and Amy.
Diane Bertin has fostered more than 50 children over 12 years, while raising her own three kids, rarely taking any time for herself. Since her own family has grown up, she has adopted little girl, and is currently in the process of adopting two young brothers, both under four.
Marissa Bertoia's son Daniel was just 16 diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. She nursed him at home for the two years until his death, and has since raised over $450,000 for Sick Kids Hospital through her Skate With Daniel charity.
Elisabeth Linton's daughter Elisa, was just four when she was diagnosed with the terminal Sanfilippo Syndrome, a degenerative mind and body disease that will prevent her from reaching adulthood. Apart from nursing her daughter for 14 years, Linton founded the Sanfilippo Children's Research Foundation that has raised over $4.5 million for research into a cure.
Joanne Poisson hasn't had a vacation since her 22-year-old son was born. Instead, not only does she take care of her disabled son, she also gives respite to other families by caring for their disabled children while they take a holiday.She has also founded two non profits organizations for the disabled.
After Stephanie Roung's youngest child, Alexis, was diagnosed with a terminal mitochondrial disease, she cared for her infant 24/7 as well as looking after her young son. Since then, Roung founded MitoCanada a registered charity, which has raised over half a million dollars. Sadly, Alexis succumbed to her disease, but Roung continues to raise funds for research.
One of Krystal Shipley's sons is the only known living child with RMND1 Mitochondrial Disease. She has educated herself in all aspects of Ayzac's care, while still working to create a happy daily life for the whole family. She has been inspired to enroll in nursing school and is currently making a documentary to spread awareness of rare diseases.
A nurse and mother, Josée Vigneault's determination to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis has led her to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and Acotango in Bolivia, as well as complete three Olympic triathlons to raise funds. This month, she will climb to Everest Base Camp.
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