Spirit of Giving


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Friends Asking Friends – Together We Can Make A Difference.

IMG_0056We spent many days and many hours in the IWK Health Centre’s NICU, surrounded by an incredible team of nurses, doctors, social workers, etc.  We were included on our girl’s daily rounds, we were taught how to show our love to babies that were in incubators, on ventilators, with oxygen probes, feeding tubes, IV’s, and heart rate monitors.  We were taught how to change diapers on such tiny little bums.  We experienced one of the most precious moments of a parent’s life in the NICU…kangaroo care.

We spent 124 days at the IWK, the first two weeks I was on strict bed rest, the next month felt like a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs.  We prayed every day that someday we could take our girls home…Someday never came…on our 124th day, we left the hospital with only one baby carrier.

IMG_9388We left the IWK feeling incredibly empty.  Lost.  Broken-hearted.  But at the same time, we felt gratitude.  Love. Thankful.  Our loss will never be forgotten, just as the support and care we received during a most difficult time will never be forgotten.

The IWK 5K – In Memory of Jessica, which takes place on Telethon Sunday every year, was created to commemorate our daughter and at the same time show our gratitude for the care we received for our girls at the IWK and also the support to myself and my husband after our daughter passed away.  In 5 years we raised over $95,000, with every year growing exponentially.  This money was raised several different ways, but the easiest and most significant way was through the IWK’s online fundraising tool – Friends Asking Friends.

IMG_9502Friends Asking Friends allows you to create your own personal fundraising page for the IWK Telethon for Children. By creating a personal page with our story and pictures through this free site, I was able to share my fundraising goals on social media and email it to friends and family from away who were unable to participate at the event. The more personal your page is, the more you will touch people’s hearts which ultimately helps raise vital dollars to ensure maritime families receive world class specialized care.  Please help support this year’s IWK Telethon for Children and create your own personal fundraising page through the Friends Asking Friends website.  You will be surprised how easy it is, and how quickly your goals will be reached!

For more information on the IWK 5K – In Memory of Jessica please visit their Facebook page or contact Jenn Manuel at iwk5kinmemoryofjessica@gmail.com

Click here for details on how to create your own personal fundraising page for the IWK Foundation. 


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We will beat cancer. We will be strong like you.

Jenn Allaert, rider in the Sears National Kids Cancer RideThe Sears National Kids Cancer Ride is one of the biggest and most ambitious charity cycling events on behalf of childhood cancer in the world. Jenn Allaert from Moncton, New Brunswick, shares why she’s riding across Canada to improve the quality of life for children, and their families, living with and beyond cancer.

20 years ago I watched my mom getting sick. No one knew why and answers were hard to come by. A year later her brain tumor was remove a month to the day after my 16th birthday. The relief was brief, 3 months later my Nona was diagnosed with brain cancer. The out come not in our favour this time, her presence left us 4 months later. Life was definitely not fun that year…it was far from a sweet 16.

Now that I’m a mom I know what the meaning of giving everything for you kids is. A fighting chance to be a kid. I will fight for them and fight for all the kids. I now have the reason I’m riding with me forever…it will never be forgotten.

My life changed when I was asked to be the massage therapist of the 2008 & 2009 SNKCR riders. I really had no idea how much that experience would have on my life or even the big realization of why I was doing it. I strongly believe that this is bigger than me; it’s something I have to do. I do it because I can, because I have 3 beautiful children and I can’t image my life without them. I can’t image waking up one day and someone telling me that my kids have caner. These are the words no parent should ever have to hear.

Many of my adult family members have lost their battle with cancer. It was so hard to watch their changes in health from all the countless treatments. And within my massage practice I see the emotional and physical impact cancer has on it’s survivors and think that no child should ever have to experience that. All children need to have positive touch experiences in their life and none should come from countless needle pokes and invasive treatments.

Everyday I carry the words I heard form a little girl with cancer “Mommy don’t be sad, it’s not that bad I only have cancer.” It was so heartbreaking to hear these words because the children with cancer are living adult lives…not the life of a child

So here is to all the kids out there. We will beat cancer. We will be strong like you. And you’re never alone; we’re with you until the end. You’re forever in my heart!!!


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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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An experience I will never forget

Kristin Wilton is a Mount Saint Vincent University public relations co-operative student at the IWK Health Centre Foundation.

Maria Panopalis, Kristin and an IWK patient during the 30th Annual IWK Telethon for Children.

Maria Panopalis, Kristin and a patient during the 30th Annual IWK Telethon for Children.

Throughout my second work term at the IWK Foundation, the bulk of my responsibilities were focused on the planning and implementation of Telethon. 2014 was a big year for the IWK as it celebrated 30 wonderful years of the IWK Telethon for Children. On May 31 and June 1, 2014, a record-breaking $6,154,816 was raised thanks to the generosity of Maritimers. This shows Maritime commitment to the IWK and is a significant increase from the inaugural event in 1985 raising $649,000.

Being part of Telethon 30 was humbling. From scheduling vignettes with donors, patients and our partners at CTV Atlantic, to pre-produced stories and rover interviews, I was able to participate in the many aspects that bring Telethon to life.

As the days went on and the Health Centre turned into a live television studio, the excitement exhilarated. To kick off Telethon 30, the IWK Foundation hosted a live remote celebration with CTV Atlantic at the Health Centre. Many early founders, patients and caregivers highlighted special moments from the very first Telethon in 1985. I had the privilege to meet and learn from those who participated in the first Telethon, which was extremely rewarding and provided me with an appreciation of the connection these individuals had and continue to have to the IWK. The distinct transformation over the course of 30 years proves that the Health Centre is a priority for our patients and families throughout the Maritimes.

Another special addition to Telethon 30 was the #MyIWK campaign. Thanks to our partners at Bell Aliant, the #MyIWK campaign kept those involved in the magic of Telethon in the days leading up to the live broadcast. For every photo uploaded to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #MyIWK, Bell Aliant donated $1 up to $30,000 to celebrate the 30th anniversary. Not only did Telethon 30 raise over $6 million but social media played a large part, reaching 12 million people world-wide. It’s a great feeling knowing that Maritimers continue to step up year after year to make a difference, offline and online.

As I end my time here at the IWK Foundation, I can’t help but reflect on my experiences. Being part of an organization that raises funds to better the care of our Maritime children is rewarding and thanks to my colleagues, is an experience I will never forget.


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May is LEAVE A LEGACY™ month!

May is LEAVE A LEGACY™  month! Mary Theresa Ross, Manager of Personal & Planned gifts, shares her personal connection to the IWK Health Centre and the important roll that planned gifts make to patients at the IWK. 

If you have visited the IWK Health Centre with a sick child or loved one, you truly understand the passion and conviction of IWK staff members who teach, encourage and challenge patients and their families to thrive no matter what the illness or disease.  Prior to working at the IWK Foundation, I was a Foundation volunteer for 21 years.  However, my personal journey with the IWK actually began 30 years ago, when I walked into that foreign concrete building for the first time, not as an employee or volunteer, but as the mother of a child with a serious illness.  At that moment, I had no idea that the doctors, nurses, patients and events that happened within those four walls would shape me into the person that I have become today.

Leave a legacy to the IWK in your Will

Jody with her son, Cameron.

My true passion for the IWK stems from the time that my family and I spent at the Health Centre all those years ago. Over the course of an eleven-year period, my daughter, Jody, spent five years and three months as an inpatient. This is not including the additional six and a half months that Jody spent as an inpatient on the women’s side when she found herself in critical condition while pregnant with my beautiful grandson, Cameron.  Cameron and Jody would not be here today without the doctors and nurses who fought valiantly to save both of their lives.

This is just one IWK story. And to me, the most rewarding part of my personal and professional journey with the IWK has been meeting other individuals and families who have shared their stories of hope and encouragement.  Although often overwhelming, these stories have the power to move you in profound and unexpected ways, no matter what the outcome. Maritime families recognize the IWK as a centre of excellence and believe whole-heartedly that they have received the best possible care.  This is why I am a donor.  And this is why I have left a gift to the IWK Foundation in my estate plans.

In my current role as the Manager, Personal and Planned Gifts at the IWK Foundation, I have been fortunate to witness first-hand how our donors and families are giving back to the IWK and the impact that their generosity continues to have on patient care at the Health Centre.  Estate gifts to the IWK help sustain excellence in specialized care including neonatal and pediatric intensive care, women’s health, and mental health services for children and youth.  Funds also support world-renowned research studies, capital investments, and the purchase of world-class technology and state-of-the-art equipment.  Gifts made through estate planning keep us strong, motivated and inspired not only today but well into the future.

This is why I need you to please consider joining me today.  Your estate gift, no matter what the size, will help children like Jody and make a significant difference in the lives of thousands of families like mine.  Help us ensure that the IWK’s tradition of excellence will live on by leaving a legacy for future generations.

Excellence is in your hands.  

Learn more about leaving a planned gift to the IWK Foundation.


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An incredible day with an incredible family.

Since 1996, CTV Atlantic has proudly broadcast the IWK Telethon for Children and helped raised millions of dollars for the IWK Health Centre. Rachel Bower shares her experience of filming one of the remarkable stories that will be featured on this year’s Telethon broadcast. 

Steve&JoshMy role in the IWK Telethon for Children is story producer. It is a role I am fortunate to have as I get to meet many incredible children and their families.

Recently, CTV production camera operator, Steve Townsend and I travelled to Southern Nova Scotia to meet Joshua Cochrane and his mom Anne and sisters Chaya and Kate.

Josh is diagnosed with autism, Kawasaki disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and teeth malformation.

LightinglessonFrom the moment Josh and Steve met, they were inseparable. Josh was interested in how camera and lights worked, and Steve was happy to share his knowledge with his new friend.

Josh watches everything and quickly began to copy Steve.

After seeing how Steve set up the lights for his mom’s interview Josh set up the lights for his own interview. He helped Steve pick out beautiful scenic shots. When Steve, who is a master of lighting with found objects, was setting up for an interview Josh was right beside him asking him what he was doing.  At the end of the shoot, to Steve’s delight, Josh helped put the gear back into the CTV Production Truck. HelpinginTruck2

It was a pleasure to witness how well Josh and Steve interacted on this shoot.

To find out more about Joshua’s story tune into the 30th Annual IWK Telethon for Children broadcast live on CTV May 31 & June 1.

Make a gift to the IWK Telethon for Children.


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A day I’ll not soon forget.

Laura MacAulay is a Member Service Counsellor at CAA Atlantic in Charlottetown, PEI and mother to Alexander and Porter, IWK patients.

July 8th, 2013, is one day I’ll not soon forget. At 28 weeks pregnant with twin boys I found myself being airlifted to the IWK from my local hospital here on P.E.I. My blood pressure was high enough they thought they may have to deliver my premature babies that night. After arriving to labour and delivery at the IWK, the amazing nurses and doctors where able to keep me comfortable and calm with their knowledge and equipment. They were able to stabilize my vitals enough for me to be admitted to the maternity ward on strict bed rest.

Premature baby

Alexander at three days’s old

During my three weeks of bed rest, I was “alone” as my husband had to return to P.E.I. to work. The nurses and doctors couldn’t do enough for me, something as little as getting me a drink, an extra blanket, or even just a short conversation to pass time. Without the kindness of the staff at the IWK I don’t think my period of bed rest would have been as pleasant as it was. I never really felt “alone”.

Part of my stay consisted of ultrasounds every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to keep an eye on the babies’ development. The first ultrasound determined that baby A had restricted growth (no or reversed blood flow from the placenta through the umbilical cord) which caused him to be tiny and not grow as well as he should. The restricted growth was thought to be caused by my high blood pressure and unfortunately, there was not much that could be done but monitor the blood flow. The doctors were very informative and pointed out all the parts of the babies. They even showed me when the babies had hiccups; nothing big, but their professional bedside manner was comforting when I didn’t know what was going to happen or when. We took things day by day, and every day they were growing on the inside I felt better about what was to come.

Premature baby in incubator

Porter at three day’s old.

The day my life changed forever was the day my precious angels came into this world at 31 weeks. The day started out normal. I went for my usual ultrasound but they discovered a reverse flow of blood going back through baby A’s cord so, then and there, the doctor decided it was time to meet these little boys. Baby A, my little Alexander, was born first, weighing 2lbs 4oz, and two minutes later his brother, Porter, was born, weighing 3lbs 3oz. Unfortunately my husband did not make it over to the IWK in time to witness the boys being born, but I never felt alone as the nurses were always there to update me on what was happening and even take some pictures of the teeny tiny babies.

Even with the boys being born so small and so early, they were troopers, and had very few health problems. Premature babies often have lung issues, so when I got to see my little angels for the first time I was not surprised to see them with a CPAP machine hooked up. The little mask covering their noses was forcing room air into their lungs to clean them out and get the lungs working strongly. Within 24 hours of their birth, the boys had a drug called BLES (bovine lipid extract surfactant) put down into their lungs – which in my opinion is the miracle drug. Within 12-24 hours, the CPAP was gone and the boys just had nasal prongs to give them air until they were strong enough to breathe on their own. Eight days after Alex and Porter were born they were strong enough to be sent home to our local hospital.

The fantastic doctors and nurses at the IWK were fast acting, attentive, knowledgeable and caring. Without them and their state-of-the-art equipment, the outcome could have been much different and my healthy happy sons might not be with us today.

Twin boys

Alex & Porter, 7 months old.

The IWK will always hold a special place in my heart, especially now that I had a personal experience. I realize how important it is to have this facility in our region. Through my work, we are now raising money through a raffle for a trip for two. Proceeds will go to the IWK Foundation and the Janeway Foundation in Newfoundland. We also do weekly “dress down” days.

Make a gift to the IWK Foundation.
Learn more about fundraising for the IWK Foundation.