NANAIMO — Emily Breingan's family was facing a gutwrenching situation, unable to find any more jars of one of the only foods their daughter was willing to eat. However, the concerns melted away Friday morning, Emily's face filled with joy as she saw a truck packed with boxes of her favourite meal.
Breingan, 16, has down syndrome and autism, and will only eat apple sauce and a particular kind of banana baby food. Her family told NanaimoNewsNOW that type of baby food can no longer be found locally.
That's when staff at Nanaimo's Real Canadian Superstore stepped in, arranging a delivery for Emily of more than 1,000 jars of the banana food product collected from across Western Canada.
"I got lots,” an excited Emily said as she approached the back of the pickup, surrounded by her family. “This is amazing.”
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It's estimated the surprise delivery will last Breingan about nine-months to a year.
Breingan's mother Holly said she noticed her daughter's cherished banana food was no longer available at the local Superstore in early July. She said Emily's health ailments also include a seizure disorder, Crohn's disease and the need to be fed through a tube.
Emily won't eat other viable options like yogurt or pudding, Holly said.
"There's just really no describing what a tight position we were in. When your child only eats two things and one of them is discontinued and isn't willing to move forward or change to a different product.”
Holly mixed foods in a bid to widen Emily's pallet, but she said the move backfired and led to trust issues.
"We just celebrate who she is, having bananas is one of the celebrations,” Holly said laughing.
Superstore manager Greg Welgan said Loblaws is looking into the shortage of the President's Choice product and couldn't speak to whether it was being discontinued.
He said when they reached out to other stores for boxes of the product, the support was overwhelming.
"It just started flying in. I think we received another four boxes Thursday morning. Everyone wanted to help,” Welgan said.
The massive baby food donation went into motion thanks to Holly's friend Reed Botwright, who felt compelled to act.
Botwright knows the Breingan's challenge all too well. His son Everett also has autism and would only eat a specific kind of limited edition Kraft Dinner. When supply of the product began to dwindle, he turned to Nanaimo's Superstore last year. Welgan helped arrange 400 boxes of the Star Wars themed mac and cheese for Botwright's son. The story went viral, with international media coverage and help from actor William Shatner.
Holly hoped her story would lead to more tolerance and highlight how generous the people of Nanaimo are.
“To bring awareness to people's challenges, but then also to how a community can come forward and help people out, it's amazing.”
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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