Addie Pafiolis with her son, Theo, who died just five days after his birth due to a heart condition in 2017. For the past four years, Addie and her husband Chris have been supporting local families around the holiday season in Theo’s memory. (Contributed)

Addie Pafiolis with her son, Theo, who died just five days after his birth due to a heart condition in 2017. For the past four years, Addie and her husband Chris have been supporting local families around the holiday season in Theo’s memory. (Contributed)

Okanagan couple supporting local families in son’s memory this Christmas

Theo Pafiolis was five days old when he passed away due to a heart condition; now, his parents are supporting others in his name

A Lake Country couple is carrying on their son’s memory by making Christmas 2020 a memorable one for a local family.

For the past four years, Addie and Chris Pafiolis have been sponsoring families with money out of pocket for presents and food during the holidays.

It’s how they’ve chosen to turn a heartbreaking loss into something heartwarming and positive.

In 2017, their son Theo was born with a birth defect known as Hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The heart condition went undiagnosed until 36 hours after his birth. Sadly, just days after welcoming Theo into the world, the couple had to say goodbye.

“We had five very short days with him until he left this universe for another, and something that we chose to do in his memory right away, starting in 2017, was support some families at Christmas through hard times,” Addie said.

That first year, Chris and Addie fielded private messages on Facebook to find a local family in need of support.

“That was really special,” Addie said. “We were able to really shower them with some presents and some food for Christmas.”

READ MORE: Donations needed for less fortunate Vernon kids to give gifts

In 2018, they decided to spread the support out across multiple families. Through their company — SweetLegs Clothing Inc. — they purchased $6,000 worth of Save-on Foods gift certificates and passed them out among the community.

They purchased gift certificates again in 2019, and also found two local families to support.

This year the couple has been busier than ever running an e-commerce business in the middle of the pandemic. But seeing the extra need among local families, they made the extra effort to continue Theo’s Christmas tradition.

“Already I can feel that there’s a lot of people within our community that could really benefit from an extra hand,” Addie said. “It wasn’t long ago when we were a family that could have used a little extra love, so I think it’s really important to just pass it forward, especially during a time when everyone is struggling — mentally, emotionally, you name it,” Addie said.

Addie and Chris have already raised and donated thousands in Theo’s name for causes ranging from the Canucks Children’s Hospice to a scholarship at George Elliot Secondary in Lake Country. But Addie says there’s something extra special about supporting people in her home community.

“To me, it’s kind of like a virtual hug,” she said. “Plus, it keeps our son’s memory alive, so it’s important to us.”

READ MORE: West Kelowna business helping community through trying times


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Christmas

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