Spirit of Giving

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You never know what lies ahead for you, your family, or friends.

IWK Health Centre Patient, Ben Harris

Ben Harris

Have you ever wondered what IWK stands for?  Officially “Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre” but to me it means, “Investing in Wonderful Kids”.  It is a truly inspiring place that we, as Maritime parents, treat as an insurance policy – we want to have it if we need it but hope to never have to use it.  At least that was our philosophy until the day we needed it and our appreciation for the IWK became a reality.

That day came for us shortly after Ben’s fourth birthday.  Our healthy active boy came down with a cold.  It was just a cold, not so bad as to require medical attention but enough of a cold to keep him home from daycare.  Then, little purple dots appeared all over his body and this Mommy went into panic mode. We went to see his family doctor immediately.  Those purple dots were petechiaean indication of low platelets which a blood test confirmed. We were admitted to the Prince Country Hospital in Summerside, PEI.

It was here that Ben was given his first round of IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin – a plasma protein replacement therapy that is given to immune deficient patients who have decreased antibody production capabilities) to help boost his platelet count.  During this transfusion he had a reaction and the transfusion had to be stopped.  This was the day our relationship with the IWK began through consultation with our local hospital.  When Ben’s numbers failed to rebound we were sent to the IWK for an appointment with hematology and for bone marrow testing.  Bone marrow results revealed that everything was working fine and because of his history of reacting to the treatment we again decided to give his body time to repair.

As time went on his platelet numbers failed to increase. He underwent another bone marrow test and consult with oncology. The results once again revealed that his bone marrow was working perfectly fine. Next we were sent to immunology.  Here his immunologist, hematologist and oncologist thoroughly tested Ben for every possible cause. All of these tests resulted in a diagnosis – Ben suffers from autoimmune conditions called thrombocytopenia and neutropenia.  Ben has had bone marrow testing, ultrasounds, MRIs, x-rays, blood work, and even dental checks at the IWK to ensure his health is being fully and continuously monitored.

While his team hasn’t been able to isolate the cause of his condition they have safely and confidently found a way to manage his platelet count which allows him to run and play!

So why should we give to the IWK?  The answer is simple; you don’t know when you are going to get a phone call saying that the specialists there want to see you the next morning.  You never know what lies ahead for you, your family or friends.  Having a facility that focuses on children and all their intricacies in our region is worth supporting.

Please consider supporting the upcoming IWK Radiothon on 95.1 FM CFCY presented by Credit Unions and the Co-operators Agents of PEI.

Sincerely, Heather Harris (Ben’s mom)

Learn more about Ben and other PEI IWK patients during the IWK Radiothon on 95.1 FM CFCY, presented by Credit Unions and The Co-operators Agents of PEI – broadcasting live October 30, 2014. Thank you to our generous sponors: 95.1 FM CFCY, Credit Unions, The Co-operators Agents of PEI, Charlottetown Mall, Rodd Hotels, and Global Convention Services.

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Gaming our hearts out for the IWK.

Extra Life is a 24hr gaming marathon where funds raised help sick and injured children at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. As a proud Children’s Miracle Network member hospital, the IWK Health Centre receives all funds raised in the Maritimes. Amanda Matthews shares how Extra Life, and video games, have made a difference in her family’s life. 

Last year, when we first found out about the Extra Life fundraiser, we were ecstatic. Not only is it a fun way to raise funds and awareness, but it was also something that was very close to our hearts. We’re a family of Gamers, it’s what we love to do together. Whether it’s Monopoly, Candy Land, World of Warcraft, or Peggle, we love to game together as a family. It’s also how Blake regained the use of his hands and legs so quickly.

Blake, IWK patient


Blake had a brain tumor in his posterior fossa, the part of the brain that controls movement, balance and coordination. We were warned that the pressure from the tumor, as well as the surgery to remove it might cause him to have balance and fine motor issues, as well as a number of other issues. Blake was not lucky. After he recovered from surgery, he could not walk very well and spent most of his time in a wheelchair. He was right handed before surgery and after, he could not use his right hand very well. He’s now left handed.

He spent a lot of time in Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy to help regain the use of his legs and hands, as well as his balance. However, being weak from radiation therapy and surgery, the level of therapy needed to regain those skills couldn’t be reached. His therapists did however, realize that he liked to play games, and so, they began using video games as part of his therapy – including Wii bowling and soccer, Nintendo DS and other handheld games. Blake struggled. Boy did he struggle. It was sometimes hard to sit through those therapy sessions and watch him get so angry with himself for not being able to do something that he knew how to do a month before. He tried so hard.

Playing games in the IWK hospital room.

Playing games in his hospital room.

His determination, and the kindness and patience of his therapists paid off. Through the use of handheld games like the Nintendo DS, he regained much of his fine motor skills. You can’t defeat Bowser with one hand. You can’t beat Naiomi at soccer sitting down. Through games and a tough sense of competition, today, he is able to walk without anyone noticing that he has balance issues. He can write his name finally. He can out play almost anyone at Mario Kart.

Games were his safe place. During treatments and hospital stays and all the bad times, he had his games to cheer him up and keep him happy. He had his nurses play with him, Child Life workers play with him, and he had Mom and Dad (who he ALWAYS beat) to play with him, be with him, comfort him.

Extra Life is important. Not just because we love video games, not just because they helped our boy through the toughest fight of his life, but because it helps save lives. In 2013, Extra Life players raised 4 million dollars for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Money that pays for life saving equipment, research and maybe some video games 😉

Join us on Saturday, October 25th. We’ll be gaming our hearts out for the IWK Health Center in Halifax. That’s our miracle hospital.

Sign-up today at www.extra-life.org to take part in this 24hr gaming marathon in support of the IWK. 

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Help IWK children live happily ever after.

Stephanie Reid is the Program Lead, Marketing Strategy at the IWK Foundation and a member of the runDisney community.

Children's Miracle Network BalloonHave you ever considered running a race but never had the right motivation? Are you an avid runner looking for a new challenge? Have you been looking for an exciting and unique way to support the IWK Foundation? If you answered yes to any of these questions then this is the blog post for you.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® is the presenting sponsor and celebratory charity of the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Funds raised for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in conjunction with this magical event will help kids grow up happily ever after. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raises funds and awareness for 170 children’s hospitals in the U.S. and Canada, including the IWK Health Centre located right here in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Pirates of the Caribbean on the race route of Disney's Princess Half Marathon 2014.

Pirates of the Caribbean on the race route of Disney’s Princess Half Marathon 2014.

It’s rare when two of your passions collide so perfectly. I’ve been participating in runDisney races since 2010 when I completed my first marathon during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. And I have to say, it wasn’t hard to get hooked as there is nothing quite like running a runDisney race. The costumes, entertainment and the overall experience of running through Disney theme parks and resort areas make runDisney races a bucket list item for any aspiring or seasoned runner.

So naturally, when I learned I could participate in a runDisney race in support the IWK I came running (pun intended). Children’s Miracle Network participants can support their local children’s hospitals by signing up for the Princess Half Marathon or the Glass Slipper Challenge (a 19.3 mile adventure over 2 days). Glass Slipper challenge participants will run the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K on Saturday, followed by the Disney Princess Half Marathon on Sunday. Currently all races are sold out to the public but you can still participate by signing-up through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® or another participating charity or travel provider.

So are you in? Here’s the run-down (again, pun intended – I just can’t help myself!):

  • Sign-up for either the Princess Half Marathon or the Glass Slipper Challenge at princesshalfmarathon.childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org
  • Fundraise the required minimum amount for your race to support children and families at the IWK Health Centre
  • Make your family’s travel arrangements
  • Pack your bags for the happiest place on earth
  • Just keep running…

The upcoming Glass Slipper Challenge will mark my 5th and 6th runDisney races, and they certainly won’t be my last. But for right now, my focus is on fundraising and supporting this wonderful cause that is very important to me. As an extra incentive to my supporters, if I reach my minimum fundraising goal by August 18, 2014 I have promised to come to work dressed up like Mickey Mouse and stay in character for an entire business day. That’s right, I will do absolutely anything for this cause and the children and families at the IWK Health Centre.

Have a magical race and thank you for your support!

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We dance for the kids.

Dance Marathon is a movement involving university and high school students at more than 300 schools across the North America, all raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in their community. On April 3, 2014, Sackville High is hosting the very first Dance Marathon to ever take place in the Maritime region.

Dance MarathonHere at Sackville High, along with close to 14 additional schools throughout Halifax Regional Municipality, Dance Marathon hype is getting ELECTRIC! So far, we’ve raised almost $6,000 dollars and have nearly 500 students ready to get their dancing shoes on and boogie for the IWK!

When I first looked out over the sea of 20 faces at our very first Dance Marathon committee meeting, I never could have envisioned just how much the initial excitement and commitment would blossom. Nor could I have imagined   just how much love, support and passion would be put into making this event a marvelous reality. As of now, our planning committee has approximately 75 students, all of which are 110% ready to make magic happen April 3rd.

Never before has such joy, love, and unity flowed through the halls of Sackville High. We are absolutely thrilled with how much giving back has positively impacted our school community and how great it makes us feel. We’d like to thank Children’s Miracle Network for bringing us the opportunity of hosting a Dance Marathon. Special thanks go out to all of our sponsors who contributed puzzle pieces of support for our special mosaic.

To all of the lovely and compassionate donors, and the phenomenally inspired students and staff, without you this day wouldn’t be possible. Last, but certainly not least, we’d like to give a HUGE thank you to the IWK for welcoming us into your hearts. We are proud to support an institution that has given countless levels of support to so many of us through the years.

On Thursday, April 3rd we dance for the kids and we dance for the IWK.  

Rebecca Butler, Students’ Council Co-President & SHS Dance Marathon Co-Chair

Support the Sackville High Dance Marathon for the IWK

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Playing games. Healing kids.

Nova Gamer for Left to RIght: Jon, Mark, Dan,  with Dave in the front centre.  Absent from photo: Austin

Nova Gamer from left to rIght: Jon, Mark, Dan, with Dave in the front centre. Absent from photo: Austin

Mark Devitt, co-founder of NovaGamer in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is fundraising for the IWK Foundation by participating in this year’s Children’s Miracle Network event. Extra Life.

My passion is gaming and I’m lucky enough that I am able to work in the industry too. At NovaGamer, my colleagues and I all share the same love for gaming and the gaming industry.  While we are committed to being active members of society, As gamers one of our challenges has been trying to find a way that we could make a significant contribute to our local community through our work. This was a task made very easy for us when we learned about Children’s Miracle Network’s Extra Life event.

Extra Life is a fantastic event that happens on November 2nd, 2013 to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network. Money raised from this event in the Maritimes goes towards the IWK Health Centre– our local children’s hospital. Essentially this event gives gamers, like me, a chance to get out into our community with family and friends to raise money for a fantastic cause. Believe it or not we do this by pledging to play games for 24 hours straight. We not only help support our local pediatric hospital but we are able to do so by participating in something we love. It’s a way to bring gamers together to make a positive change for others.

NovaGamer_500So why has NovaGamer chosen to fundraise for the IWK?  It is simple – because the support, services, and training provided by the IWK are crucial for our community!  Every parent to be, or sick child, that relies on the IWK needs to know that the very best resources are available when needed.  Extra Life is the perfect opportunity for those of us in the gaming industry to raise money and awareness for our local hospital. We want to make sure that the IWK continues to grow and offer services for families in need in the years to come.

Support Nova Gamer as they fundraise for the IWK Health Centre Foundation. To learn more about Extra-Life and other participants supporting the IWK Health Centre Foundation visit www.extra-life.org

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Second chances at Extra-Life!

George Pink from Little Bras D’Or, Nova Scotia, is a  registered participant in Extra-Life, a unique national fundraising initiative from Children’s Miracle Network. 

George Pink

Did you ever want to be that hero you played as in a video game or in that movie? Well like most that almost seems surreal, but after stumbling across Extra-Life’s fundraising event I can now feel like a hero!

It was a typical rainy day for me two weeks ago when I happened to be browsing my xbox and noticed this page. It was called Extra-Life. I checked it out to find out it was a fundraiser that you partake in a gaming marathon to raise money for various children’s hospitals over the globe. I immediately was interested as not only could I enjoy myself playing games, but I could spread some awareness to my fellow community to support this lovely cause and maybe even join in!

It brings me great satisfaction to become a part of something as great as this. I was immediately spreading the word to friends and family to join and I had a few friends who were thrilled to help out. I think that’s when I realized what was happening, it was the beginning of bringing together people to help a great cause and it truly feels amazing!

I chose the IWK Health Centre Foundation as the beneficiary of my fundraising because I’m a Nova Scotia resident with friends and family who have been admitted to this lovely hospital in the past.  It is the least I could do for such a reputable and amazing centre for treatment.

Take a look at the fundraiser and help join in, one level at a time!

Support George as he fundraises for the IWK Health Centre Foundation. To learn more about Extra-Life and other participants supporting the IWK Health Centre Foundation visit www.extra-life.org

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RE/MAX for Kids.

Nassim Lyayme is a real estate sales professional with RE/MAX Nova, specializing in residential and commercial real estate sales and leases. He is also a proud supporter of the Miracle Home Program.

Re/MAX Nova agents proudly displaying a donation to the IWK. Patients Kendra & Kinsey said thank you by giving them original pieces of their own artwork.

For the last 29 years, RE/MAX Nova has been committed to philanthropy. As a proud supporter of the IWK Health Centre Foundation, we recognize the importance of giving back to our community. Through our Miracle Home Program, we strive to improve the lives of Maritime families who require the highly-specialized care that the IWK is known for. I’m proud to say that every single one of RE/MAX Nova’s agents is an enthusiastic supporter of the Miracle Home Program.

It is an extreme honor to be able to support the wonderful cause of helping our youth who are in need of medical and hospital care.

The IWK has become a beacon of hope for the young in our society who, for whatever reason, require the medical services and skills provided by the dedicated professionals of this fine institution. These care givers are the real heroes, and it is with extreme humility that I give my thanks to these un-sung heroes and do my small part to support the IWK through the Children’s Miracle Network.

Nassim (Nas) Klayme

August is the RE/MAX Month of Miracles. Learn more about RE/MAX’s Miracle Homes Program. 

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Making miracles happen.

Pam Hubley is the Manager at Dairy Queen in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. This year marks the 10th Anniversay for Miracle Treat Day in Canada.

Pam and Sherry proudly displaying a Miracle Treat Day cake.

Dairy Queen is a part of my life. For the last 23½ years, I’ve had the privilege of working for the Dairy Queen store in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. I was part of the original team that opened the store in 1989, and have participated in every single Miracle Treat day since.

Working and living in a small community means that everyone is your neighbour. You get to know what your regular customer’s favourite ice cream treat is, and you watch as the young children who frequent your store become young adults, and then bring in their children of their own.

Miracle Treat Day is a special day for all of us at the Bridgewater store. Not only is it our signature fundraising day for the IWK, but it’s a day when we connect with the people in our community in a meaningful way. On Miracle Treat Day, we hold a car wash, yard sale and bake sale right in our parking lot, with all proceeds going to the IWK.  In a small community the size of Bridgewater, everyone has an IWK Story. That’s why Miracle Treat Day is so important to each and every person who works at our store. 

Every year, our dedicated staff hand deliver letters to every business in the area, and ask them to support us in achieving our goal – help us help kids. Because of our dedication and commitment to this simple goal, our store was given a plaque from Children’s Miracle Network that featured a family who had personally benefitted from the IWK.

Recently, a customer came into our store and after buying his treat, personally thanked us for all that we did on Miracle Treat Day. Although not verbally stated, his connection to the IWK was evident in his sincere appreciation of what we do. As he walked away, he stopped, glanced at our plaque and then continued on his way. After he left, we realized that he was the father of the family whom we had been honouring in our store.

This is what Miracle Treat Day is all about. Knowing that there are families who are able to smile and enjoy a Blizzard because of the specialized care they received at the IWK, a hospital that we work hard to support, is the best feeling in the world.

Learn more about Dairy Queen Canada and Miralce Treat Day at www.miracletreatday.com.

Make a gift to the IWK Health Centre Foundation.

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A day that we should all be proud of.

Geoffrey Milder is the Development Officer and Children’s Miracle Network Program Director at the IWK Health Centre Foundation.

Participants from accross the Maritimes celebrate at Shubie Park in Dartmouth, NS.

The weather might have been a little cloudy, but that didn’t stop us from having fun last Sunday at the 9th Annual Walmart Walk for Miracles. Joining 11 other cities across the country, more than 400 supporters showed up at Shubie Park in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to celebrate their philanthropy and fundraising efforts for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the IWK Health Centre.

 The support that was shown was unbelievable, as associates travelled from all over the Maritimes to enjoy a day that celebrates Walmart’s incredible commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of Maritime families.

Participants in this year’s walk made their way through either a 1 or 5km route. I had the privilege of walking and meeting some amazing Walk for Miracle participants along the route. It was inspiring to see so many people out enjoying themselves and supporting this amazing cause.

The walk was a huge success and was a day that we should all be proud of. Together, we were able to raise an astounding $14,673.95 to help purchase priority equipment and support life-saving medical research as well as vital patient services at the IWK Health Centre.

After completing the Walk, children and adults alike reveled in the festivities which included face painting, entertainment from Atlantic Cirque, Milo “T” Clown and an enormous bouncy castle! The carnival atmosphere was the perfect way to say “thank you,” to Walmart and its supporters for presenting the largest donation during the previous weekend’s IWK Telethon. The Maritimes is fortunate to have such a world-class health care centre in its region. It’s the support of companies like Walmart, its associates and the countless customers that purchase a paper balloon that allow us to achieve our goals. It goes to show that with you, anything is possible.

I would like to personally thank all who come out to support this year’s Walmart Walk for Miracles. Thank you for your incredible fundraising initiatives, your support and thank you for a fabulous weekend!

Make a gift to the IWK Health Centre Foundation.

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Miracle Moms are making it happen.

Maria Stanley, Mommy Blogger for the Children’s Miracle Network’s #MiracleMoms campaign.

Blogs are a wonderful way of connecting those who are separated geographically. They provide insight into the lives of others, and even allow us to relate to someone whom we have never met. Those who write blogs do so as a way of sharing personal stories about their life, food, fashion, career and kids. While millions of blogs are posted each day by a variety of people; one of the most influential groups of bloggers is moms.

Online mothers have carved out a real niche; they support one another, share common experiences and bounce ideas off one another. “Mommy Bloggers” are often humorous and sometimes pretty brazen.

Children’s Miracle Network has identified 11 popular Mommy Bloggers in both Canada and the United States who will be writing heartfelt stories about families who lives have been touched by children’s hospitals. The IWK Health Centre Foundation is a proud Canadian member of the Children’s Miracle Network. These Miracle Moms will be working hard to spread the word about the fabulous work that takes place at children’s hospitals across North America, and encouraging their readers to make a difference by making a donation.

We are happy to announce that over the next month, our Miracle Mom, Maria Stanley, will be sharing stories of IWK families from across the Maritimes. Please join us in welcoming Maria to the IWK Health Centre Foundation family. We encourage you to check out her blog to read about how the IWK has had a positive impact on the lives of Maritime families.

Check out Maria Stanley’s blog or follow her on Twitter @BOREDmommy.

Make a gift to the IWK Health Centre Foundation.