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'She was such an amazing mother': Eight Yarmouth children left without their mom following health tragedy

People are stepping up to help the family of a Yarmouth woman following a health tragedy. GOFUNDME
People are stepping up to help the family of a Yarmouth woman following a health tragedy. GOFUNDME

With broken and heavy hearts – but also loving hearts – people are stepping up to help the family of a Yarmouth woman following a devasting health tragedy that has robbed eight children of their mom.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family of Stephanie Penney, 37, who was taken to the QEII hospital in Halifax by life-flight from the Yarmouth Regional Hospital on March 25.

“Around midnight, she started feeling sick. The scans showed blood on her brain. It was determined that she had a cluster of abnormal blood vessels in the back of her brain rupture. This caused a severe brain bleed,” reads the GoFundMe page that was set up by her sister Heidi McLeod. “There is nothing they can do for her,” the post said when it was made.

An appeal has gone out to the public to help the family financially, given the suddenness of the tragedy and the support her family will need. Donations will help with bills, groceries and basic necessities for the children, who range in age from five to 19. Originally funeral expenses had been listed in the list but Sweeney's Funeral Home intends to cover the funeral costs, the family says. 

As of 6 p.m. on Friday, March 27, over $28,000  had already been raised through donations for the family. (Update: By 11 a.m. on March 31 the amount raised was just over $52,500.)

In Yarmouth, people who weren’t related to, or friends with, Penney would have crossed paths with her at the Walmart in Yarmouth where she worked. She would greet people with a smile on her face and was always happy to chat, while ringing through the purchases of customers.

On social media, many who knew her personally have been speaking lovingly about her, describing her as someone who was always warm and friendly and reaching out to others.

“She was such an amazing mother to her eight wonderful children and always had a smile on her face. Never once would she complain about anything in life,” said Ashley Nickerson, a lifelong friend, who said Penney worked harder than most mothers she knew to give her children – who meant the world to her – a good life. "Now their lives have changed forever. My heart hurts so much for them and her family and all that knew her."

Nickerson said she stopped in to visit the children on March 27. "They all seemed heart broken but were still holding it together. She was a very strong women and raised such strong children."

Because of the hospital restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 situation, the GoFundMe page notes there had been much concern that her kids weren’t going to be able to see her at the hospital. “They got it sorted out and set up a family room for them and they took turns visiting. Thankfully everyone got to see her,” the GoFundMe posting says.

In keeping with Penney’s loving and giving nature, other lives will be saved and changed because of her.

“It makes our hearts happy she is an (organ) donor, and knowing she is still helping others even in a terrible time, and when the world does not seem very positive because of the COVID virus,” her sister wrote in the GoFundMe post.

The Yarmouth mother was being kept on life support until the morning of March 28, when she will give the gift of life to others through the donation of her organs. Both of her kidneys, her liver and her heart will be donated to others.

You can read her obituary here. Memorial donations in memory of Stephanie can be made to the JStrong Fund. 

CLICK here for the GoFundMe page.

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