Meet Mathis and his healthcare hero, Jennie!


In the wake of the pandemic, the Ardene Foundation teamed up with Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada to thank frontline workers with shoes. 180 seriously ill kids and teens across Canada received 2 pairs of white, customizable shoes donated by Ardene — one child size and one adult size — along with provided fabric markers. After designing them at home, Starlight children kept one pair for themselves, while the matching pair was given to an important healthcare worker in their life, to thank them for their courage and protection.

We asked Starlight families to describe their chosen frontline worker in one word. Today, meet Mathis and his very own “exceptional” healthcare hero, Jennie!

When 7-year-old Mathis was diagnosed with anaplastic lymphoma just a year ago this month, his whole family’s world turned upside down. Instead of being able to go to school and see his friends, Mathis was in treatment and missed out on months of childhood. His younger brother, Zackary, was also taken out of daycare to avoid the spread of germs. “We were in survival mode,” his mom, Marie-Pier, shared.

Mathis during chemotherapy treatment

In March, Mathis had plans to finally go back to school and experience part of a ‘normal’ life again when COVID-19 hit. As disappointing as it was for their family, they have been spending time together in quarantine, lots of which is filled with Starlight Canada’s newest program, Play From Home. “Starlight makes our children laugh, they have sparkles in their eyes when they get their little surprises,” Marie-Pier said. “The fact that they organize activities that include Mathis’ brothers is really great, because they also had to live with their brother’s illness.”

Mathis and his brother, Samuel, with a Play From Home Pack!

Thanks to the Ardene Foundation, their time together at home is now also filled with heartwarming memories. When Mathis’ family got their shoes to personalize to thank frontline workers, they were so excited about the opportunity to reconnect and thank a healthcare hero who has done so much for them. Mathis knew he wanted to design his shoes for Jennie.

Jennie is a nurse in the intensive care unit at CHU de Québec. “She was there during Mathis’ worst moments of his illness,” shared Marie-Pier. As Mathis spent 18 days in the ICU, Jennie was there right beside him; always knowing when he was hurting or scared, even if he tried to tell others that he wasn’t.

“I will always remember when Mathis would wake up with a tube [in his mouth], when Jennie was there he wouldn’t panic because he trusted her,” said Marie-Pier. As a parent, it was always a feeling a relief for them knowing that someone like that was watching out for their son. Jennie has their eternal gratitude, and giving her Mathis’ matching pair of shoes hand-drawn by him was the perfect way to show their appreciation.

As Mathis was drawing his shoes, he was thinking of everything that Jennie has done for him and his whole family. He drew whatever came to mind while reflecting on those times. While the two may not see each other as much anymore now that Mathis is thankfully out of the ICU, Mathis and Jennie will always share a bond from their health journey together. Thanks to the Ardene Foundation and their generous donation, these shoes will always connect them and remind them of each other.

Mathis and Jennie wearing their Ardene shoes, hand-drawn by Mathis!

An endless thank you to the Ardene Foundation for making a priceless moment like this possible for hundreds of kids, just like Mathis.

To check out more photos on social media from this initiative, click here!