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Innisfil severe COVID survivor raises over $2,000 for RVH Foundation

Innisfil severe COVID survivor Stephe Lawson and community members took part in a walk over the weekend in support of the the RVH Foundation

Innisfil resident and severe COVID survivor Stephe Lawson made the trek from downtown Barrie to RVH Saturday morning for his Walking for Heroes in support of the RVH Foundation. 

Almost two years ago Stephe Lawson contracted COVID-19 and had to be hospitalized in the intensive care unit (ICU). While he's technically "recovered," he still suffers the lingering effects of the virus and has weekly appointments at RVH. 

The virus initially attacked his lungs and then migrated to his heart and cardiovascular system, scarring his arteries and veins. Lawson is still having breathing and heart issues, as well as fatigue, brain fog and pain from organ swelling. Oftentimes, his legs will feel like they are asleep, affecting his ability to walk. 

"The thoughts are my infection was severe enough that it triggered autoimmune disease," he said, noting doctors are now looking at a possible diagnosis of systematic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which affects tissue and organs of the body. 

Despite the circumstances, he remains upbeat about the situation, along with his wife Christie and their two young daughters. 

To show his appreciation for hospital staff, he embarked on a walk from downtown Barrie to the hospital on Saturday morning, along with friends, family, and supporters. 

Local dignitaries, Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin, Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman, Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin, Barrie Councillor Natalie Harris, Barrie-Innisfil MP John Brassard and Simcoe-Grey MP Terry Dowdall also joined him on the walk. 

"Walked with this incredible guy, Stephe Lawson, from City Hall to RVH today," said Mayor Lehman in a social media post. "Got to know him and his family and heard his remarkable story of surviving severe COVID...Congrats to Stephe and all those who walked with us-it was cold but hearts were warm."

"His journey of overcoming COVID-19 is one of bravery and hardship. It was an honour to walk alongside Stephe and his family," said MPP Khanjin.

At the end of the walk, the group was greeted by frontline RVH workers in a reception at the hospital entrance. 

"To be able to hug those that saved my life when I was in ICU was truly a very special moment," said Lawson. 

The "Walking for Heroes" campaign had an initial fundraising goal of $1,000 on Lawson's Go Fund Me page. As of Monday morning, over $2,000 has been raised for the cause. 

The RVH Foundation supports the hospital with the necessary funding to bring urgently needed state-of-the-art medical equipment, facilities and health-care programs close to home. 


Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is the Editor for BradfordToday and InnisfilToday. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats.
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