Wes and Jacklyn. Photo supplied

YANA’s ability to adjust on the fly a huge stress relief for the Szabos family

Organization provided support for Wes, 4, and his family

Westley Szabo is a bright and curious four-year-old boy who loves the solar system, can name all of the planets and most of their moons, knows his alphabet and numbers to 20, and delights in spending his hours on the beach by the ocean, a place that mother Jacklyn refers to as “Wes’s happy place.”

Wes was recently diagnosed with autism and global developmental delay, a discovery that has provided answers and insight for his parents Jacklyn and Andrei, after a long and confusing search to understand both the physical and cognitive challenges that presented when Wes was very young.

“When we first started Wes’s journey, we were led to believe he had a genetic condition, Goldenhar Syndrome,” explains mother Jacklyn. “This led to multiple appointments out of town and started us on our medical journey with him. He’s seen a cardiologist, ophthalmologist, ENT, geneticists, undergone surgery, and more recently been through an autism assessment that has led us to his diagnosis. The journey to get these answers is what led us to where we are now. These appointments are hard to get, and you want to be able to say YES each time one calls to let you know you need to come in. I can say yes each time because YANA makes it possible to do so.”

YANA has not only provided support for many trips the family has made for these out-of-town appointments, but they have also been a source of significant comfort and help through some of the more difficult trips the Szabo family has made for their son. Jacklyn recounts the relief she felt when YANA came through again during a particularly stressful time for their family after Wes experienced some complications following surgery at Victoria General Hospital.

“We came to stay at Jeneece Place because our son needed surgery at the hospital. We were supposed to be in and out in one day. He wasn’t recovering well, and I, of course, was very stressed out as we couldn’t leave the hospital, and YANA had only planned a one-night stay. I was so anxious as I laid next to my son worrying about what we were going to do. I got a hold of YANA and they took that stress on and figured it out. We were able to stay where we were until he was able to go home. I remember the panic literally leaving my voice when I found out we didn’t have to worry.”

There is no doubt that life is anything but simple for Wes and his family, with daily challenges, appointments, therapies, and the ongoing learning curve of caring for and supporting a child with diverse needs, an awareness that Jacklyn hopes to see more of in our community.

“My hope for all children who are neurodiverse in the Valley is more accessibility, compassion and inclusion, and for families like ours to know YANA exists for families just like ours.”

“I always say ‘I’ll never leave this place’ to my family and friends. I say that because we’ve experienced generosity, kindness and inclusion from our home here. We are never alone when we leave the Valley for care. It feels like the Valley is going with us when we have to leave. We know quite a few small businesses and individuals who support YANA, and I hope they know they are part of our story now.”

For more information, visit yanacomoxvalley.com


The annual Valley Vonka fundraiser in support of YANA is now in full swing.

Chocolate bars are available for purchase (by donation), with “Golden Tickets” randomly inserted inside five Valley Vonka chocolate bars.

Finding a Golden Ticket gives you a chance at one of five great grand prize packages, from Mount Washington Alpine Resort; The Old House Hotel & Spa; Kingfisher Oceanside Resort; Canadian Tire; and Peninsula Co-op.

Chocolate bars are available at:

Comox Valley Record office

• Ashley Furniture Homestore

• Old House Hotel, OhSpa, Locals Restaurant

• Mount Washington Alpine Resort

• Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa

• Peninsula Co-op (Aspen Location)

• Canadian Tire

• Hot Chocolates

• Sure Copy

• Bomback & Co.

• Blinds and Bubbles Boutique

• Living Room Pharmacy

• Margot Rutherford Notary

• Mackenzie Gartside

• Pilon Tools

Comox Valley Regional District

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