Benefit for Dakota

Jamie Heap
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Community rallies behind four-year-old girl recovering from rare illness

Dave Hibberts looks at his four-year-old granddaughter Dakota Hibberts who was diagnosed with Guillian-Barre Syndrome, a rare neurological illness, last month. Also pictured is Dakota’s mother Krista Smith and father Aaron Hibberts. On Nov. 29, Elm Tree Pub & Grill is hosting a Benefit for Dakota featuring 50/50 tickets, a silent auction and live entertainment. 

AMHERST-Dakota Hibberts was like any other four-year-old girl: she enjoyed dancing, singing, painting and cooking in her easy-bake oven. That all changed in October when she was afflicted with Guillian-Barre Syndrome, a rare, non-contagious syndrome affecting the nervous system that affects only one to two people out of every 100,000. Normally, only adults in their 30s or 40s are affected.

“Dakota was transferred from (her) home hospital in Amherst to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax on October 16,” said IWK Medical Social Worker Jacklynn Pidduck. “Treatment of symptoms, including significant weakness in limbs and pain, requires treatment in hospital and essential rehabilitative follow-up at home.”

“Dr. Murray McCrossin, Dakota’s family doctor, checked on her every day while she was in the Amherst hospital,” stated Dakota’s mother Krista Smith. “He did a whole work up on her on Wednesday (October 16), and when the oral medication was not working, he ordered that she be transported to the IWK by ambulance.”

“If it wasn’t for the IWK, she’d be dead,” said Dakota’s father Aaron Hibberts. “They gave her a spinal tap. Without it, they wouldn’t have found out was wrong.”

“They gave her two Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatments,” stated Smith. “Each took four hours; there were three little bottles for each treatment.”

While Dakota was recovering in the IWK Children’s Hospital she was greeted by a very special visitor, Canadian country music singer Gord Bamford, who was in Halifax with Reba McIntire for an October 20 concert at the Halifax Metro Centre.

“He sang Little Guy and My Daughter’s Father,” said Smith.

“I like him now that I am better,” said Dakota, holding on to her lady bug pillow.

“It’s (Guillian-Barre Syndrome) in remission now, but it could come back,” stated Dakota’s grandfather Dave Hibberts. Dakota returned home on October 29, 2013. “It could take up to year for her to recover, assuming that there are no setbacks.”

Currently, Dakota can walk on her own, but requires a walker for long distances.

Among the essential rehabilitative follow-up recommended by the IWK’s Pidduck that Dakota receive include physiotherapy and occupational therapy, something that the Hibberts are still waiting to hear back about. Dakota receives her physiotherapy at the Cumberland Regional Health Authority on an outpatient basis. In addition, she travels to see her pediatrician in Dieppe, New Brunswick.

In the weeks that have passed since Dakota was first diagnosed with Guillian-Barre, businesses and people alike have donated $1,000.00 in gift certificates to Dakota. Dakota’s grandparents, Dave Hibberts and Cathy Varner, also phoned people for donations while Aaron Hibberts and Krista Smith picked them up. Varner even made an angel that lights up.

Online, Suzanne Cleaves Bailey, who lives in Kentville, Nova Scotia, is donating 25% of the profits she makes from selling Gold Canyon scented candles to Dakota.

Closer to home, Elmtree Pub & Grill is hosting a benefit dance for Dakota on Friday, November 29 at 7:00 pm. In addition to 50/50 tickets, there will be a silent auction and live entertainment, featuring Bruce Gibson, Eddy Cook, Flashpoint, Pick and Grin, Plain Jane, The Original Steve Butler Band and The 6:30 band.

“Thanks to the general public for all of their support and kindness,” stated Dave Hibberts. “Thanks also to all those who gave donations; thanks to Ronnie White from the Elm Tree Tavern for all he has done and thanks to The Amherst News.”



Organizations: IWK Health Centre, Amherst hospital, Halifax Metro Centre Cumberland Regional Health Authority The Amherst News

Geographic location: Dakota, Halifax, Amherst Dieppe New Brunswick Kentville Nova Scotia

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