Stroller Spotlight: April
Meet April, a 16-year participant in the Stroll for Liver, a national event we welcome you to join by registering today. She strolls to honour her nephew Matthew, who lost his life just as his world was opening up to him.
Part of a large, close-knit family in Springhill, Nova Scotia, April first learned about liver disease in 1997 when her sister Cathy’s son was diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis – inflammatory scarring and narrowing of the bile ducts.
To combat his condition, Matthew had a successful liver transplant in Halifax at 19, with family by his side every step of the way.
But a few years later his health waned, requiring dialysis, and a second transplant. The surgery worked but sadly, a virus took his life at the tender age of 24.
The loss devastated his community, especially given his promising trajectory as an engineering student and the selfless courage he displayed as a volunteer firefighter.
In 2007, April rallied family and friends for their first stroll as Team Matthew Meekins, who to date have raised thousands of dollars for liver awareness, support programs, and research.
Honoured by the Canadian Liver Foundation with a medal for “15 years of bringing liver research to life”, April and Cathy stroll every May 8 on Matthew’s birthday, alongside four generations from grandma to grandkids, waving their banner and handing out brochures about liver health along the way.
Even though they participated as a group, this year’s Stroll is still virtual, with Canadians participating in their own way (any physical activity counts), then sharing their experiences August 28.
Matthew had a collection of elephant ornaments and he adopted the elephant as his symbol. Soon April’s walk will be augmented by getting a special elephant tattoo. She feels hopeful for the future of liver research. Will you join her? Will you join her? liver.ca/stroll-for-liver