RedDAY Stories: Susan’s Butterflies

A life-changing loss and the fundraiser that’s keeping a memory alive

Shaunette Skinner remembers her heart sinking when her phone rang on the afternoon of March 6. It was a call she was expecting – but not one she was prepared for.
Pictured: Shaunette Skinner [right] with her partner, Lisa [left].
Pictured: Shaunette Skinner [right] with her partner, Lisa [left].
Shaunette took a deep breath and picked up the phone. On the other end, a relative back home in Newfoundland told her that her older sister – 55-year-old Susan – had died following months of complications from a massive heart attack.
“Whether you live next door or across the country, a loss like that is life-changing” says Shaunette, a 42-year-old school bus driver in Waterloo Region.
“It’s sad to say that it takes something like this to change your perspective on life, but it does. It made me realize I have to take better care of myself.”
Since losing her sister, Shaunette is eating better and going for regular checkups. She’s also trying to be more active by walking and hiking.
A RedDAY to Remember
This week for RedDAY, Shaunette is doing a five-kilometre walk with her partner, Lisa, and some friends and relatives to fundraise for St. Mary’s General Hospital.
With a goal of raising $300, Shaunette launched her team – Susan's Butterflies – through the RedDAY website in May. As of June 3, she had raised roughly $250.
“Every little bit helps, and we hope to reach our goal before Friday,” Shaunette says.
Shaunette, who moved to Ontario from Newfoundland seven years ago, learned about RedDAY through a previous employer that donated to the annual fundraiser.
Though no longer working there, Shaunette wanted to keep contributing to St. Mary’s.
“I always thought it was a good cause, but it really hit home after losing Susan,” Shaunette says.
Susan had dealt with health issues all her life. She was deaf since childhood and later developed diabetes and mobility problems that left her in a wheelchair.
In December, Susan was rushed to a Newfoundland hospital following a heart attack. While there, she developed an infection and stayed in hospital until her death three months later.
Despite the 13-year age gap and geographical distance between Susan and Shaunette, the sisters were close. They would FaceTime often to chat about different topics, including Susan’s young granddaughter, Summer.
“Sometimes I’ll pick up the phone to call her and then think: ‘oh wait, she’s gone,’” Shaunette says. “So, for me, RedDAY is a way to keep her memory alive.
“The $250 we’ve raised is just a start. Next year we’ll go even bigger.”
Pictured: Susan [left] with her husband, Richard [right].
Pictured: Susan [left] with her husband, Richard [right].
Would you like to support Susan's Butterflies with a donation? Visit their RedDAY team page at the link below.
Manulife $200,000 match.

Donate in support of #RedDAYFriday and Manulife will match your donation, dollar for dollar* to support local healthcare at St. Mary's General Hospital.

* up to a total of $200,000.
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