WATCH: A local teen got a nice surprise in Nanaimo Friday. Emily Brenigan has Down syndrome, Crohn’s disease and autism. She only likes to eat two foods but one of them is about to go out of stock. Then a Nanaimo dad whose son became famous for a similar reason brought in some big help. Kendall Hanson reports.
There was a special delivery in Nanaimo on Friday for a special girl.
Sixteen-year-old Emily Brenigan has a charming personality and a smile that will melt your heart but she also some health challenges including Down syndrome, Crohn’s disease and autism.
She usually relies on a feeding tube but there are two foods she likes to eat. And one of them, President’s Choice pureed bananas, is about to disappear. The company is taking it out of stock.
“There’s just no describing what a tight position we were in when your child only eats two things and one of them is discontinued and [she] isn’t willing to move forward to change to a different product or taste or flavour,” said her mother Holly Brenigan.
With just 10 jars left, it led Emily’s mom to post a plea for the product on social media.
The response was far beyond her wildest expectations.
“It immediately caught my attention because I was familiar with their struggles but it was a perfect situation for me to step up and pay it forward,” said Reed Botwright.
Botwright’s son Everett also has autism and they faced a similar scenario when stores were discontinuing Star Wars-themed Kraft Dinner.
His plea about 18 months ago led Real Canadian Superstore to round up and donate 400 boxes, among others that were donated from those in the community.
“And he’s still eating it and he has since expanded his diet,” said Botwright. “He’s eating more things and getting more adventurous and yeah, it was really a turning point for us.”
So Botwright contacted Nanaimo’s Superstore manager who helped them and he was willing to help again, contacting stores across the country.
“We sent an email out. If anybody has this product can you please just send it to us and the support was overwhelming,” said Greg Welgan, Nanaimo’s Real Canadian Superstore Manager. “It just started flying in.”
On Friday, 1,000 jars of the pureed bananas were delivered.
“Amazed at the generosity,” said Brenigan. “It’s a good thing to bring awareness really to people’s challenges but then also how a community can come forward and really help someone out.”