Losing a child is a parent’s worst nightmare. But Sandra LaRose has made it her mission to turn her family’s tragedy into a way to help others.
On August 22, 2018, her 17-year-old daughter, Kailynn Bursic-Panchuk, died after her car was struck by a train
in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Kailynn had been using her phone’s GPS to navigate and didn’t see or hear the train coming.
Since that tragic day two years ago, LaRose vowed to keep Kailynn’s memory alive.
“My biggest fear has always been that she'd be forgotten. I think that's the first and foremost thing in any parent's mind when they lose a child,” says LaRose.
Keeping Kailynn’s memory alive by helping others
Last year, LaRose took part in Operation Lifesaver’s #STOPTrackTragedies campaign. In her heartbreaking video
, she talks about Kailynn’s death and how it has inspired her to educate others about the dangers of using cell phones while driving.
Now, LaRose is once again using Kailynn’s memory as a way to help others. She’s spearheading a new non-profit called the Sharing Kailynn’s Sunshine Foundation Inc.
“My vision is that the foundation will keep Kailynn's legacy and life—as well as her morals and story—going,” explains LaRose. “Kailynn was such a giving, compassionate and empathetic person. She would give a stranger on the street five bucks so they could go buy a burger. I thought ‘We have to continue that. That can't die with her!’”
LaRose says they decided the focus of the foundation should be on “helping people who help people.”
“We're going to be a volunteer organization. If you need volunteers at your soup kitchen or you're painting something at a day care, we're helping,” says LaRose. “That's who she was and that's what we want to be.”
Launching the charity with an online auction
The foundation’s first official event kicks off this week. They’re holding a silent auction with all proceeds going to the foundation and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Saskatchewan
. They will be auctioning everything from handmade jewelry to wall hangings to baked goods which have all been donated by local businesses and artists as well as friends and family. Bidding begins at 8 am CST on August 21—what would have been Kailynn’s 19th
LaRose says that holding the event on her daughter’s birthday seemed like the perfect way to honour Kailynn’s memory.
“Kailynn would have accomplished so much in life had she lived. I don't want all of those dreams to die with her when there's a way we can fulfill some of them for her,” says LaRose. “And knowing that people are there by my side, near and far... it makes my heart very happy.”
If you want to find out more about the Sharing Kailynn’s Sunshine Foundation and their silent auction, check out www.sharingkailynnssunshine.ca. Or follow them on Facebook
, and Instagram