Yolanda was born a happy baby and grew up as normal as can be. Not long after being married in June 2000, her husband, Pat, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and the couple had a miscarriage in August 2002. Unfortunately, Yolanda began getting headaches around that time. After an entire year of going back and forth to the doctors and the hospital for M.R.I. and C.A.T. scans, the doctors finally diagnosed her with having “increased cranial pressure” or in plain English, too much fluid in her brain and no way to drain it. To give you a better idea of what was happening, think of it as a faucet running into a plugged sink without a drain, the water just fills up. In 2003, Yolanda had surgery and the doctors placed a shunt (drainage tube) from her brain, down the inside of the chest into the stomach where the fluid drains too. The tube has stabilized the pressure in her head but the damage to her optic nerves was too much and now she is totally blind.
In December 2004, after watching an episode of “The Apprentice”, Yolanda never forgot Donald Trump saying to the contestants, “never give up and follow your dreams”. With this in mind, Yolanda decided to host a dinner and dance fundraiser to support the organization that helped her so much, CNIB. She called it “Vision of Hope” Gala for two reasons. The first reason is that she hoped to inspire other people with vision loss to follow their own dreams and succeed. The second reason is her dream that society will embrace people with vision loss and view them as capable individuals in all aspects of life.
On March 4, 2005, Yolanda held her first Vision of Hope Gala and raised more than $6000 – not bad for her first fundraiser after recently adjusting to vision loss. After 12 years, she has raised over $175,000.
2014 Caring Canadian Awards