A special fundraising event took place in downtown Kingston on Sunday as a thank you to those who helped save a baby’s life.
The four-hour “Heatwave Motown Dance Party” took place at BluMartini Bar and Grill on Ontario Street as a way for baby Athena and her family to give back to the people who have played such a vital role in her young life.
Athena’s story is one of numbers. Her family says she arrived 15 weeks early, weighed in at just over two pounds, has endured eight surgeries — with three more to go — and has spent her first 541 days in two different hospitals: one in Ottawa, the other in Kingston.
“Not even two years old and she’s the toughest, most resilient person that I’ve ever met — and I’ve known some tough cookies,” says Athena’s father, Pete Cowell.
Cowell says the family is hoping Athena’s major hurdles are behind her. He says she’s had heart and trachea surgery in addition to suffering a near-fatal bout of pneumonia. The child has also overcome opioid addiction twice and gone through withdrawal from that.
Kayla Forbes, Athena’s mother, says some of the proceeds from the dance party are helping to support the neonatal intensive care unit at Kingston General Hospital. The Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario will also benefit from the dance party.
“We just wanted to be able to give back because we’ve had so much help from the NIC unit and pediatrics, even though they’re (pediatrics) not included in the fundraiser,” said Forbes. “Helping us out with Athena and her issues, they’ve just been so fantastic. We’d like to be able to help out a bit, if we can, and help out with other families that might be going through the same thing.”
At the dance party, three bands played over the course of the afternoon while guests danced. The event also included a silent auction with items like signed copies of a book by Randy Bachman, a children’s book from James Taylor and an autographed CD from Anne Murray.