Having experienced her own hardships with chronic illnesses, Nicole Snobelen knows all to well what it is like to be in and out of hospital beds. When Snobelen was a student at Fanshawe College, she was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis and Endometriosis. These illnesses cause Snobelen to experience severe pain and limit her ability to work regular hours.
Knowing the difficulties of having to live with chronic illnesses, Snobelen decided to build a charity that could better the lives of sick kids, — even if just for a moment. In 2015, The Abby Fund was founded with the mission to: “Help lift the spirits of sick children, one stitch at a time”.
Those involved volunteer their time to meet with children and make their wildest dreams come to life through clothing designs. Having come from a fashion background, Snobelen wanted to use her talents to make a difference.
“With The Abby Fund we meet with kids who are in the hospital and we have them design their dream dresses or superhero capes, which we eventually bring to life. We also host an annual fashion show where children could model their very own creations in a live show. It has not only provided them with a night away from their reality, but it has also helped us secure funding to continue this program. It can be expensive to bring these drawings to life, but in the end it is very rewarding and inspiring because these kids fight the toughest battles every single day. Just giving them something to look forward to honestly means the world to them,” commented Snobelen, creator of The Abby Fund.
Before starting The Abby Fund, Snobelen would give away dresses to women who could not afford them. She would do so through her personal clothing brand, Evelynn by Nicole Snobelen. She then later decided that she wanted to do something that would be meaningful to kids who’s lives were effected by illness.
“When I started the children’s line I decided to implement the same concept but for kids. One of the nominations that came through was for a little girl in the hospital that was awaiting a kidney transplant. After going through the experience of having her design her own dress and me bring it to life — I knew that I had to do this for as many kids as I possibly could. I knew I wanted to take them out of those situations and make them feel like the princesses and superhero’s that they truly are,” said Snobelen.
Ever since Snobelen was a little girl she wanted to make the world a better place and The Abby Fund has allowed her to do just that. Through her own experiences she is able to relate to the children in a way that a healthy person might not ever be able to.
“I have this emotional bond with every child that I meet and I get to work with. I really cannot see myself doing anything else…Honestly the most rewarding part of doing this is not only seeing how the child is impacted by the design, but seeing how it also effects their family. They do not get to see their kids smile a lot or experience things that other children get to do — like riding a bike or going swimming. So, to be able to just sit down and watch their children be inspired by themselves and see their faces light up during such a dark time…is so magical. It really touches everyone’s lives who are apart of the program.”
To these kids, Snobelen really is a real-life fairy godmother.
*Feature Photo Credit: The Abby Fund*