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Holy Cross Crusaders rock funky socks for beloved classmate

Holy Cross Secondary School (HCSS) students and staff are going to “Knock Your Socks Off” in a funky way on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, in honour of a beloved member of the Crusader community.

Emma Jenkins, a grade 11 student, woke on the morning of Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, and suffered a stroke affecting half of her body and face. She was airlifted to SickKids Hospital in Toronto for treatment.

Emma Jenkins is a grade 11 Crusader known for her lively spirit and smile. Photos submitted.

The medical team at Sick Kids discovered Emma had previously suffered several smaller strokes and she was diagnosed with Moyamoya Disease, a rare, chronic, and progressive condition that affects the arteries in the brain. 

The term “moyamoya” is Japanese and refers to a hazy puff of smoke or cloud. In people with Moyamoya disease, this is how the blood vessels appear in their brain scans. People with Moyamoya disease suffer a narrowing of these blood vessels that leads to blockages and can eventually cause ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, and seizures.

Treatment involves managing symptoms with medicine or surgery.

A GoFundMe account has been set up by a friend of the family to help Emma’s mom, Lori, cover “the cost of travel, food, necessities, the loss of work and other expenses.” The page also explains that, after learning her diagnosis, Emma, who is known for her “huge heart and beautiful smile,” donated blood to help further research into the disease, “proving… what a strong, beautiful, kind heart she has despite the struggle she is enduring… Despite everything, Emma is determined to keep smiling… Even if her body struggles to let her do so.”

Emma is a “student who adds a spark of energy to [the Holy Cross] community,” says HCSS Principal, Terri Daniel.
“She brings the daily attendance to Mrs. Burt each morning and is known to stick her tongue out (in spite of masking) to those friends she meets in the hallways. You can see her smile in her eyes. When we learned of her stroke last Monday morning, we started praying for her and her family. The Knock Your Socks off for Emma day will raise some funds to support the family as Emma receives care and rehabilitation, but also incorporates fun, in the colourful socks that Emma enjoys. We hope Emma is able to see the support she has in her school community and in the Algonquin and Lakeshore School Board at large.”

An update to the GoFundMe as of Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, explains Emma has regained movement in her body and face and was able to return home on the weekend. Additionally, “Doctors told Lori that when they see someone come in with a stroke like Emma’s, they usually have to stay in the hospital for longer and are sent to a rehab center afterwards. So that just goes to show how strong Emma is!”

Holy Cross student council’s poster for Knock Your Socks Off for Emma. Submitted image.

Wearing colourful, fun, and crazy socks, and sharing posts of them on social media has become a tradition on World Down Syndrome Day. The idea celebrates people with Down Syndrome and the many ways that they can brighten up our world – they aren’t meant to be hidden, they are intended to start a conversation and raise awareness.

The Student Council at Holy Cross has set up a fundraiser to go with their funky socks on Wednesday. This includes “Toonie for Non-Uni” – where students pay two dollars to forsake their uniforms for the day and all students and staff are encouraged to wear “Funky socks.” 

The Holy Cross motto is “Once a Crusader, Always a Crusader,” and the school community hopes that current and former Crusaders alike, as well as members of the community at large, will support Emma and Lori in Emma’s health care costs. Visit the GoFundMe page here.

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