Spirit of Giving

It’s a Family Affair – The IWK Telethon for Children

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Brad Jacobs is Vice President Development for the IWK Foundation

In my role  for the IWK Foundation my primary responsibility is making sure we hit our financial targets.  However, I left Telethon weekend June 5 & 6 thinking about family!

You see, Telethon is about the coming together of our community – in a way that families are at the core of what makes it successful.  It’s what our donors, volunteers, and health care professionals rally around.

This was my 10th Telethon, and each one leaves you with a special memory.  This year I was overwhelmed with the tradition of family involvement, as hour by hour I reunited with many of our past patients and families.

Over the weekend I had the privilege to visit with many extraordinary families whose children were all frequent fliers at the IWK.  I can’t tell you how heartwarming it was to see those people, and to see the collective pride and passion of the IWK that they still embody.

The sight of Anne and Andrea Crowe brought me back 10 years, to when Anne was the Telethon Chair, the mom of a daughter who suffered from stiff person’s syndrome, and had undergone 30+ surgeries at the IWK.  I remember the day Andrea touched her toes for the first time in close to a year.  And then the first day she walked, after she was told she may never walk again.

Then there was the Livingstone’s:  former Telethon Chair Chuck and his son Charlie who was born at 24 weeks.  I watched Charlie run around the hospital on Sunday as five-year-old boy with a zest for life.  Today, his nurses still receive updates about Charlie’s progress from Chuck.

Next was the MacDonald family from Truro, whose son Matt (a former champion child) unfortunately passed away in 2000 after a brave battle with a brain tumor.  Wanda and Allison have continued to inspire me by what they have done in their son’s memory, as they continue to participate in the Telethon as volunteers every single year.

Power of Positive Change Award

Spencer MacKay, IWK ambassador, receiving the Power of Positive Change Award.

The list goes on and on.  I watched Rebecca MacKay watch her son Spencer co-host with CTV’s Steve Murphy.  I watched past Telethon Chair, Andrew Milne, watch his princess of a daughter Haylee do a cheque presentation with our largest donor – Walmart*.  And I watched Brian Dumerasq talking to donors while his mom, current Telethon chair Debbie, looked on proudly.

I also watched current and former staff of the Health Centre and Foundation arrive with family to visit, volunteer and offer their support.  And I visited a new family from Miramichi in the NICU whose triplets stole the hearts of the donor group I was touring the unit with.

These are only but a few examples of the extraordinary families who inspire us each and every day.

To quote a past capital campaign theme – “It’s About Family”.  And I can’t think of a greater example of family than the IWK.

Thank you to all IWK families past and present – for it is you who are the inspiration for all we do!


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