In the last two weeks, a young father has experienced some of the darkest moments of his life as he sat by the hospital bed of his partner and high school sweetheart, but he has seen the brightest, kindest side of his community too.
Robbie Campbell and his fiancee, Stephanie Reilly, welcomed their third boy to the world on July 12. Two weeks later, following a family hike, 31-year-old Reilly collapsed in the bathroom at home and was rushed to the hospital for what looked like a seizure.
Cheryl Campbell, Robbie's mother, said doctors confirmed Reilly had suffered a stroke. From Collingwood General and Marine Hospital, Reilly was taken to Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH), and then to St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto for surgery to relieve the pressure on her scalp caused by swelling in her brain. Doctors induced a coma to keep her safe.
Cheryl said the last two weeks have been shocking and emotional for the whole family as they waited for bits of news. While visiting and holding Reilly's hand, Cheryl received a squeeze from her daughter-in-law. It's a sign Cheryl treasures.
Yesterday Reilly returned to RVH in Barrie and has started breathing without the use of a ventilator.
From the moment the Campbell and Reilly families received the devastating news, friends and strangers from near and far have rallied to provide money, gift cards, food, and support for Robbie, Stephanie, and their three boys Isaac, 8, Dayton, 6, and four-week-old Oliver.
Cheryl still gets emotional listing the countless gestures made in support of her son and family.
Robbie's colleagues raised money for him, and his employer MacLean engineering matched the donations. Georgian Bowl, where Stephanie has been bowling since childhood, held a fundraiser for the family, raising thousands of dollars in support. Many of Cheryl's work clients donated cash. Former colleagues reached out with e-transfers.
Even strangers have been sending money, hoping to do what they can to take away some of the stress. Donations have come from Aurora, Ottawa, Midland, and even England.
"They didn't even ask for help," said Cheryl. "Robbie told me he has a different outlook on his town and there are just a ton of people to thank."
She estimates people have donated about $15,000 in cash plus gift cards and food items. The money is mostly being saved to help cover costs associated with Stephanie's recovery. It has also helped Robbie stay close to her while she's been in Toronto at St. Michaels.
"The community has really come together and I'm overwhelmed ... we're all overwhelmed," said Cheryl. "We just want to say thank you, across the board, from here to England, thank you."
It's not clear yet how long Stephanie will be at RVH in the stroke and rehabilitation unit, or what permanent damage was done. She will need another surgery at St. Michael's once the swelling subsides. Robbie is staying close by her side.
Friends, family and the community have taken up the mantle of "Steph's Army" and the mantra, "her fight is our fight."
There are no Go Fund Me campaigns currently authorized by the family. Donations and support can be sent to Robbie Campbell by email at email@example.com.