Trayce Bennett, 12, has been in and out of BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, struggling with severe health issues since he was three months old. A GoFundMe page has been started to help his mother cope with the financial impact of his illnesses. (Contributed)

Community supports mother of Okanagan boy battling severe illnesses

Trayce Bennett, 12, has been in and out of BC Children’s Hospital since he was three months old

Thanks to the help and encouragement of a friend, the community of Penticton is coming together to help a 12-year-old youngster and his single mother.

Trayce Bennett, referred to as a “very sick little boy” by doctors, has high-functioning autism, Crohn’s disease and colitis. He has been in and out of BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, struggling with severe health issues since he was three months old.

With the high cost of constantly travelling back and fourth from Penticton to Vancouver, Trayce’s mother, Nicole Ramsay is struggling to stay afloat financially.

The Ramsay name might sound familiar to many Pentictonites. Nicole’s father, Ralph “Relvis” Ramsay was somewhat of local celebrity, known for his lively Elvis impersonations at the now-closed Hound Dog’s Cafe. Nicole Ramsay is also well-known in the community as she worked at the cafe for over a decade.

READ MORE: Relvis is back and rockin’ the channel

Ramsay has been unable to work a regular full-time job this past year due to the amount of time she needs to care for her son as his health has worsened. To further complicate things, due to the pandemic, she has not received child support payments since March, according to her friend Stacey Melara.

Previously, Ramsay was a program co-ordinator for aboriginal foster children at the Ooknakane Friendship Centre.

Trayce Bennett needs to travel from Penticton to Vancouver usually twice a month to receive regular iron and blood infusion and various other treatments (Contributed).

Ramsay needs to travel to Vancouver with her son usually twice a month for at least four days at a time so her son can receive treatment for his Crohn’s disease and colitis. Trayce needs regular iron and blood infusions, among various other treatments. “His body was so weak and so sick for so long that he wasn’t absorbing anything,” said Melara.

Adequate treatment for Trayce’s condition is not available in Penticton. Trayce and his mother are currently (Oct. 8) at BC Children’s Hospital without knowing when they will be able to return home. Trayce recently fell ill with a fever and was advised by doctors in Penticton to get to BC Children’s Hospital immediately. Previously, Trayce was in hospital for 10 days after he nearly died from aspirating on his own vomit.

Trayce currently is unable attend to school due to his health and COVID-19 concerns. He previously attended Similkameen Elementary Secondary School before the pandemic closed schools in March.

After watching Ramsay struggle financially and refuse assistance, Melara finally insisted that Ramsay accept some form of help. Ramsay reluctantly agreed to let Melara set up a GoFundMe page to help with the cost.

“I’m doing this because Nicole has helped so many other people through horrible situations and raised money for them and she’s never asked for help, ever.

“She didn’t want to ask the community for help; she didn’t want to make anyone think differently of her or think she couldn’t do it on her own. I begged her for like the last three months.”

In just over a week, the page has raised over $1,000 toward a goal of $10,000.

Melara said Ramsay can become emotional when talking about the support she’s received from the community and is often shocked and extremely grateful that people who don’t even know her or her son have donated to the GoFundMe page.

READ MORE: Kelowna dog, owner throw 10th birthday party to raise funds for BC SPCA



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

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