Ronnie and I wont ever be able to tell you how thankful and how much it means to our family the support that was raised for us. Since August 11, 2016 (Lewiston’s official diagnosis day) over $70,000 was raised for our family – truly mind blowing! That’s a lot of money. Ronnie and I both want to be good stewards of the money, so in keeping with that we wanted let you know where it all went.

In continuing with the “raw and real” – here is the truth about Ronnie and I. When we found out Lewiston was on route – Swayzie was 3 months old. There was no way I was going to qualify for Maternity Leave as I wasn’t returning to a career or role with a company as an employee, Ronnie is self employed and there wasn’t some awesome benefit package or RRSP saving contribution plan that we had to fall back on. Things were already tight as I once was the larger contributor to our family and no longer bringing in what I use to. We were making it work but it was about to get a lot tougher. We trusted the good Lord, and did our best to reduce spending, sell what we didn’t need and maybe what we did need including my car to really cut expenses as we prepared for Lewiston’s arrival.


Lewiston arrived on May 25, 2016 and it was bliss until the end of July, dooms day hit us on August 11, as we found out that Lewiston did in fact have SMA type 1 – our worst fear confirmed. Read about that day here. So on August 13 a Go Fund Me account was set up for us by our close friends. Money quickly starting rolling in, and the funds grew to support us. People wanted to help and this is what they did. So where did all the money go? How did we spend $70k?


The long and the short of it goes like this. We used the money to cover regular life bills, pay for our mortgage, and medical expenses (as we have very limited coverage). We paid off debt that we weighing us down, we paid for a funeral (which is mind blowing at how pricey they can be). We then set some money aside for Swayzie’s education fund, and purchased life insurance for her, too late to get it for Lewiston – I highly recommend this for your kids – the policies are not huge and don’t cost much – you just never know. I pray you would never have to use it.


The fun part of spending the money besides on coffee and shoes (yes I bought shoes – shoot me my son was dying) was that Ronnie and I were also able to bless some families that didn’t have as loud of a voice as we did. They were suffering in silence and struggling, so focused on the care of their own children that extra money was no where to be found. We are grateful that we had the resources to do this and help when others so desperately needed it. THANK YOU. I know the families are blessed and were able to breath a little bit easier.


After the funeral and that outrageous bill we splurged and went on a trip to Maui just the two of us to chill out, grieve, read, and just catch our breath from the past 4 month whirlwind. And if I am being really honest I had a few shopping trips to try and make myself feel better, new shoes for the funeral, a new bathing suit for Maui and setting up a playroom for Swayzie in our basement. The shopping was fun, well at least in the moment, but really not much more than that. So after shoes, a funeral, medical expenses, bills, debt , a trip, a lot of Starbucks coffee and just daily life…….we are putting the rest towards our future family.


We want a big family. We both come from families of 3 siblings. The safest way for us to do this is now through IVF. Ronnie and I both are confirmed carries of the SMA gene…..all of our children have a 1 in 4 chances of life with SMA type 1. (Not great odds unless your betting on something with a better pay out). However – thank you modern medicine and the genius that created IVF and genetic testing – they are now able to test the embryo and give us the best probable chance at avoiding SMA. We would like to avoid this heartache if at all possible. Truth be told the SMA journey just plain sucks. (Insert other choice words in your head if you wish, my mom will be reading this so I wanted to keep it clean). We would both prefer to avoid more kids with SMA so we are starting our research into IVF.


From what we have researched, IVF isn’t a cheap way to have a child (bless you if you have gone down this journey before). We are also looking at adoption as that has been on our hearts even before this whole messy SMA thing came along. For now we trust God, press on and take time to plug into what we feel called to accomplish this year. We long for Swayzie to be a big sister again and keep that prayer. We aren’t rushing into anything other then allowing Lewiston’s Legacy to live on and to live as fully and joyfully as possible with some kitchen dance parties along the way.


So if you’re still reading this and you made a contribution to us. THANK YOU. THANK YOU for following a nudge and then helping us not be stressed financially while we battled for our sons life and THANK YOU for giving us the opportunity to chase our dream to continue to be parents and grow our family.


With love and such thankful hearts,


Jess & Ronnie

12 Comment

  1. Teri Kotelko says: Reply

    Your honesty is overwhelming I absolutely love it! Keep it coming! Cannot wait to read your book. I hope that the future holds a few more adorable babies for you two( you make them pretty damn cute) and Swayzie is an amazing big sister. Please let me know if I can personally help with Lewiston’s Legacy and help find a cure for this horrible disease. Lewiston is always on my mind and in my ❤️.

  2. Jess your honesty is so inspiring and truly beautiful. I wish you never had to have this journey but you set an example of grace. I love your advice about life insurance. We were offered this too from a friend and have a policy for all 4 kids… It truly is not expensive and is peace of mind knowing they have coverage if they ever need it. Funeral expenses, even the simplest are so expensive. When we lost our daughter their were some compassionate fares as she was stillborn but there was still a bill we could not really afford. And girl good for you for taking care of you.. A little shopping spree is always good for the mind and soul, even if it is just for a short time. I cant wait to read your book. Bless you and Ronnie for sharing your lives and Lewiston with us. I hope our pathes cross one day…we have some common friends and acquaintances💕

    1. Jessica Olstad says: Reply

      Thanks so much Chrissy! Learning that I will not live a life to please others. Also honesty can’t get you in as much trouble as lies will do. Would love to meet. Come take a fitness class and we can grab a coffee after.

      1. That sounds like a lovely invitation! Where are your classes at?

        1. Carrie Whyte says: Reply

          Jess teaches spin at One Cycle and also fitness classes at Lagree

        2. Jessica Olstad says: Reply

          I teach at One Cycle Spin Studio, Lagree YYC in Britannia and Signal Hill and Hot Yoga on Crowfoot which also has spin.

  3. Christy perez says: Reply

    Pure, honest and beautiful

    1. Jessica Olstad says: Reply

      Thanks! Honesty can’t steer you wrong.

  4. Shannon says: Reply

    Hey Jess,
    Thank you so much for updating us on your journey, as it has only begun… and what an inspiring story it will be for years to come.
    70K is quite an amount, though I’m sure all of us who contributed believe there will never be enough to give. My hope is that we never lose sight of how significant and insignificant money can be. Significant when used freely in love and providing comfort to others, insignificant when exaggerating its value in comparison to our relationships with loved ones. It means little without good willed purpose, doesn’t it?
    I for one, and I hope of many, am glad to hear you bought yourself some shoes. That trip to Maui – Oh so important for your marriage and SOULS! Swayzie looks up to you more than she will anyone in her life, and a happy mom will make a happy and healthy little girl.
    Never stop treating yourself & taking care of YOU, as you are already proof that living a fulfilled life touches others positively on the daily in the world around you.
    I am so looking forward to the release of your book and will be happy (and grateful) to purchase it. Anything to support your family going forward. Please, never stop updating and being a long-distance friend and encouragement to hundreds!
    Love & Blessings,

    1. Jessica Olstad says: Reply

      Thanks Shannon for your support!!!It means so much!

  5. Karen Manerikar says: Reply

    So glad that you had all the support you did, and that you took care of yourself. You are a very generous and kind person, so it makes sense that you would get back generosity and kindness. 😘

  6. Nicole says: Reply

    What a nice post Jess. I’ve been to your lagree and spin classes, but unlikely that you remember me. It’s great to hear how well the money is being used and that you have also used some of it for self-care – so important after all you have been through. You are an inspiring person, I wish you and your family the best in the future. 🙂 🙂

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