What does ‘being bold’ mean to you? Whether it means being yourself unapologetically, staying strong when times are tough, or helping others, we want you to BE BOLD.
Over the last few weeks, we met with three inspiring and badass children from SickKids hospital. As innovators in children’s health, SickKids is the largest centre dedicated to children in Canada. The hospital is on the frontlines in the fight for children’s health, and is currently raising money for a new building through their SickKids VS campaign. “Today, our biggest battle is against limits. The limits of an old building, the limits on generating new knowledge and translating it to treatment, the limits on delivering health care to every child,” as stated on the VS campaign website.
We are incredibly proud to announce that 100% of the proceeds from this collection will be donated to this magical place. We want you to meet some amazing kids who inspired this collection, and who we’re sure will inspire you.
Hartley is 8 years old. Just like other kids his age, he likes playing video games, watching TV (Adventure Time is his favorite), and hanging out with his younger brothers. Unlike other 8-year-olds, Hartley has had 19 surgeries to date.
Just 24 hours after being born, Hartley was rushed to SickKids. He was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s Disease, a congenital condition that affects the large intestine and causes motility issues in the bowel. While Hartley's parents, Daniel and Ashley, were thrilled to have just given birth to their first child, they never could have never foreseen that he’d be spending the first 100 days of his life in SickKids.
“SickKids has been the throughline through all of that,” says Daniel, “SickKids helped us in the beginning when things were a real mess. They sort of empowered us with the ability to have some normalcy in our lives. To take him home and to be his caregivers.”
When asked to participate in the VS campaign, Hartley and his family jumped at the chance. Spreading awareness about intestinal failure, Hartley is inspiring kids that it’s ok to be different. Even though you’ve got some medical hardware on you, you’re just as strong as the next person. The campaign has encouraged him to step out and be bold. "Be proud of who you are and say it with as big of a voice as you possibly can,” says Daniel.
Daniel is covered in tattoos, many of which are to commemorate their family’s journey. The stopwatch and horseshoe, for example, symbolize how time is luck. “The time that he’s healthy, the times that things are good... we’re lucky to have those. So this is a reminder to feel grateful for the time that I have with him.” He also has “bravery" and “strength" across his collarbones, which is the meaning behind Hartley’s name. "It was ironic or maybe meant to be, but like I said we didn’t know any of this was going on with him. So his name meaning bravery and strength, it’s almost serendipitous I suppose.”
The tattoos that Hartley created for inkbox have their own special meanings too. The gem is a representation of strength, as Hartley explained to us that they are made under pressure.
Twin sisters Milayna and Naya just celebrated their second birthday. Typically, twins get to do everything together. However, for Naya and Milayna, there’s been some distance between them. Since birth, Naya had to spend the first 14 months of her life at SickKids due to a complex heart condition. She’s been treated on almost every floor of the hospital, and has gone through a number of the departments at SickKids. “Had she been anywhere else, I don’t know if she would’ve made it,” said Stephanie, the girls’ mom.
"This place is magic when you need it,” says her dad Frank. “You meet so many different families, and you become family here. That’s been great, to connect with everyone.”
Naya’s picture, featured in the SickKids VS campaign, shows her cradled in Frank’s tattooed arm.
“Everybody thinks of the baby with the tattoos around her, how strong she is with the tattooed dad... but she’s really the stronger one. Looks can be deceiving sometimes,” says Frank.
Recently, Frank added the VS campaign logo to his tattooed sleeve, wearing it with pride. “These kids don’t know anything else but fighting,” says Frank. "It’s so amazing to see these kids fighting, and not even know that they’re fighting such a hard battle.”
So what does ‘being bold’ mean to them? "To stay strong when things are not so great. There’s a lot of times where the odds are stacked up against you, and it takes a lot of strength to go through everything. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the diagnosis or the treatment that you’re going through,” says Frank.
We were so inspired by Naya that we created a old-school style heart tattoo, complete with incisions to symbolize her surgeries.
“She was healthy, perfectly fine,” says Cori’s mom. They couldn’t have predicted that at 4 in the morning, when Cori was 6 years old, that she’d have a major seizure. “She was lying with her eyes rolled back and was in a very paralyzed position.” The seizure last 11 minutes and Cori was rushed to their local hospital. After seeing some specialists the family ended up at SickKids. Through a series of diagnostic testing, including MRI, MEG, CT, EEG and PET scans, it was revealed that Cori had focal cortical dysplasia, an abnormality of brain development that develops in utero.
In April of 2017, Cori underwent two brain surgeries where the surgical team at SickKids removed a lesion the size of a plum. Unfortunately, the seizures continued after the surgery, as some of the lesions sitting on her motor skills could not be removed.
Recently, Cori had a VNS chip implanted into her chest that runs wires into the nerves in her brain. Her medical team is hopeful that when Cori senses a seizure coming on, she’ll be able to swipe her watch over the chip in her chest to stop the seizure. Her mother and grandmother joked that she was basically a bionic woman. In time they’ll know if this can be a longterm solution for her. Cori’s parents are debating tattoos on their chests to match the scar Cori has from the implant.
“She’s honestly such a fighter and a trooper. She doesn’t complain about anything,” says Mom. "I’m proud of everything she’s gone through and the way she’s gone through it.”
When designing tattoos with Cori, her favorite was an anatomical brain.
You can help support these amazing children and SickKids by shopping the inkbox BE BOLD collection. Check out the SickKids VS campaign to learn more about their vision for the future and how they're helping change the lives of children's and families throughout Canada.