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Jin family thankful for a promising year

Last February the Jin family was the subject of a Richmond News story to highlight the fund raising efforts of Variety the Children's Charity.
Celebrating progress in 6-year-old Kaitlyn’s (seated) condition, the Jin family reflects on the assistance from Variety the Children’s Charity which airs its annual telethon this weekend on Global TV.

Last February the Jin family was the subject of a Richmond News story to highlight the fund raising efforts of Variety the Children's Charity.

It's a common practice for charitable organizations and media to find a family in need willing to speak about their lives in order to give potential donors a better understanding of what is needed.

More often than not families and their stories come and go but this year as the 48th Annual Show of Hearts Telethon is set to take place tomorrow and Sunday on Global TV the News revisited the Jins, who spoke of their past year, one that brought many changes.

Jimmy and Michelle Jin have three children - Isabella, 8, Thomas, 4, and Kaitlyn, 6. They are hard working parents who run a home business selling textiles.

They're a rather ordinary family with extraordinary challenges as Kaitlyn suffers from an undiagnosed set of physical and cognitive disorders that leaves her in need of help for every daily task.

Last year, as a result of Variety, Giving in Action and President's Choice Children's Charity, the Jins received a new minivan outfitted with a ramp and hydraulic lifts. Shortly after the News spoke with them Kaitlyn got new braces as well as a feeding chair and a special bed, both of which help her sit up to alleviate complications from a gastrointestinal reflex disorder.

The much needed help is slowly turning things around. For one the Jins are sleeping better for the first time since having children.

"It's much better compared to the last interview," said Michelle with a smile.

Also, because of the van the Jins are getting out more often, which means more quality family time for everyone.

And best of all, Kaitlyn is showing improvements, no matter how small they may seem to the rest of us.

"There is big, big improvement and progress that Kaitlyn has shown. One year for other kids can make a big difference, but for Kaitlyn she has special needs and very very small progress is huge for us. For example, for the first time ever in her life - right before the holidays - she was able to sit on the floor by herself without any support for more than five minutes," Jimmy explained.

"It was the biggest joy for our entire family during the holiday," he said.

Kaitlyn is described by her parents as happy, loving and friendly. She loves to watch her siblings play and joins in when she is able.

As it is with most families, the Jin's living room is strewn with toys. While Michelle holds Kaitlyn and plays with her on the floor, it's common for Thomas to beep away at a handheld video game and Isabella to gripe about the "boring" book her Grade 3 teacher has assigned her to read.

Jimmy said Variety is just a piece of the puzzle. He is constantly applying for grants elsewhere as Kaitlyn quickly outgrows her devices. He is heavily reliant on hand-medowns and exchanges.

"Recently, she has taken steps and can move around in the trainer, of course with the help of the braces. Without the braces, she's not able to stand on her feet. She's tippy-toed, like an infant baby," said Jimmy.

But those braces have become too small and Kaitlyn requires another fitting. That may require more grant applications.

But it's well worth it for Jimmy and Michelle.

"She's able to move from one room to another fairly quickly. At school her teaching assistant sometimes needs to run in the hallway to keep up with her. For us, last year, just one year alone, that was huge progress," said Jimmy.

The Jins are a thankful clan.