Byron Believers surprise hospital visitors with paid parking

August 7, 2013

Sisters Kristin MacDonnell and Jody Wakelin have seen cancer tragically take lives, more than once.

First, their daughters lost their young friend, eight-year old Sarah, to brain cancer. Then MacDonnell and Wakelin had to say goodbye again as their good friend and fellow mom, Sue, also succumbed to brain cancer.

Unwilling to let the tragedies pass in silence, MacDonnell, Wakelin and their children became active in their community in memory of their friends.

Three years ago they founded Byron Believers for Sarah and Sue. Together, they regularly participate in the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s Spring Sprint, as well as host a yearly book sale out of MacDonnell’s garage.

This year, the sale raised a whopping $1,020.

In the past, the families have used the proceeds to send cheques to various charities, but this year, they decided to use the funds in a unique, more tangible way.

“We thought, wouldn’t it be fun to pay for parking (at the London Regional Cancer Program)?” says Wakelin, explaining that she and her sister believed it would also be a great experience for the children to see the impact of their fundraising.

On August 7, both women and all five of their children: Emily (11), Bridget (9), Sydney (11), Paige (11) and Jenna (8), stationed themselves by the parking pay booth in the lobby of LRCP and covered the cost for anyone who came to pay their parking.

The reaction of the patients and visitors was one of astonishment. In only a few short moments, the group incited smiles and words of appreciation from half a dozen individuals, including one elderly woman who stopped to embrace the girls and thank them for their generosity.

When asked why they felt like extending this kindness, Syndey Wakelin answers with a smile, “You get to see the people’s reactions and see the difference you’re making.”

“You get to see how kind people are too,” adds Emily MacDonnell, 11.

The Byron Believers at LRCP

The Byron Believers for Sarah and Sue stationed in the lobby of LRCP where they surprised visitors with paid parking, thanks to $1,020 that they raised through hosting a book sale.

Though the plan was to pay for parking until the funds ran out, the group was surprised when individuals approached them to donate even more money towards the cause.

While it’s too soon to plan for how next year’s proceeds might be used, it’s never too early to receive donations of gently used books for the annual book sale.

Donations can be made to Kristin MacDonnell at