Spirit of Giving


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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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From the bottom of my heart – thank you!

Boy reading a card

Tristan Gallant reads a congratulatory card with his mom, from one of his supporters.

As a Mom, you hope you never in your life hear the words ‘Your child has cancer.’ The reality is, many of us do hear these words at some point in life. And then begins the journey of treatment, sleepless nights worrying about and watching over your child, and hope and prayers. That journey – if you live in the Maritimes – ultimately involves the IWK Health Centre working with your local hospital to deliver the best possible care for your child.

Just three years ago my son, Tristan Gallant, was diagnosed with Leukemia. Today, thanks to the IWK and immeasurable support from family, friends, colleagues, schools, and businesses, locally and across Canada,  Tristan is a happy and healthy ten-year-old boy. When I was asked if he would be this year’s Change Bandit Hero for the 103.9 MAX and K 94-5 FM Cares for Kids IWK Radiothon, I was honoured. Tristan was very excited about his important role, and got busy right away telling all his friends and helping us spread the word about his goal to raise $15,000 to support the most urgent priorities at the IWK.

The Radiothon was held at Champlain Place last week – and when we found out the Change Bandits raised a whopping $24,594.12, we realized more than ever how much this community supports Tristan and the IWK! We extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported Tristan’s Change Bandit efforts, and special thanks to the following:

  • Big sister Jasmine J
  • Moncton Hospital
  • Claude D. Taylor School for sock hop, hat day, and lassoing loot!
  • All schools in Anglophone East School District for a very successful casual day!
  • Riverview Lions Club for lassoing loot!
  • Champlain Place, 103.9 MAX FM and 94-5 FM for supporting and raising IWK awareness
  • Atlantic Superstore and all other local Radiothon sponsors
  • Uncle Wayne Gallant for using his gift of music to raise awareness for the IWK and ‘drum up support’ (literally) for Tristan’s fundraising.
  • Tristan – for being our hero all the time, and for helping so many other children at the IWK through your beautiful personality, bright smile, and remarkable fundraising! We love you Tristan! 

Sincerely,
Debi Gallant
(Tristan’s mom!)


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10 reasons we love our donors

Happy Valentine’s Day! Donors are an essential part of making the IWK the centre of excellence that it is today. We are so thankful for their love and generosity! This Valentine’s Day, our staff members at the IWK Foundation wanted to let our supporters know exactly why we love them. 

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10 reasons why we love our donors.

1 – I love the passion so many of our donors have for the IWK. They are fiercely dedicated to the cause and they understand the direct impact their giving has on patients and staff.  It’s a beautiful thing! ~ Carla Adams, Principal Communications Strategist

2 Our donors provide more than money – they give passion, energy, and expertise! ~ Molly Cotter, Director of Finances and Donor Services

3 – They  not only give, they can go above and beyond, volunteering their time and efforts beyond the financial. They’re so happy to give to total strangers! It really is inspiring. ~ Christie Moore, Major Gifts Officer

4 – I love our donors because they help the staff at the IWK make miracles happen! – Lynda Moffatt,  Development Officer – Cape Breton and Eastern Nova Scotia 

5 I am very grateful and love our many donor’s who, because they care, are quietly having an impact on the quality of health care we have come to expect from the IWK; they help to ensure that this level of excellence can continue well into the future. Their continued support is both humbling and vital. ~ Mary Theresa Ross, Manger of Planned Giving 

6 – They inspire me to be more giving.  ~ Trena Crewe, Director of Donor Relations

7 – I love our donors because they give children hope. ~ David Huett, Donor Service Specialist

8 – I love our donors because they care about the IWK as much as we do. Their donations are special and come from the heart. We both share the same the goal, to make the IWK the place possible for Maritime children, women and their families. ~ Andrew Paris, Administrative Assistant/Receptionist 

9 – I love our donors for their spirit of generosity and support for Maritime families.  ~ Natalie Foster, Database & Donor Services Administrator

10 – I love our donors because beyond the financial support they provide, they provide the most important gift of all:  hope. ~ Geoffrey Milder, Development Officer, Mainland NS & Children’s Miracle Network Program Director


From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to every one of our supporters. You are part of everything we do. 

Make a gift to the IWK Foundation.


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Change Makers – Jacob

This article is a series of three, written by Tom Mason for the Fall 2013/Winter 2014 issue of Izaak Magazine – an in-depth, behind the scenes, all-access publication highlighting the incredible, everyday happenings at the IWK Health Centre. A stay at the hospital can be tough, but for some exceptional young people, it’s also a time to grow , gain strength and learn about who they are. 

Jacob Hamilton

Jacob Hamilton

For Jacob Hamilton, paying it forward means finding strength in his own life. At 19, Jacob has been through more than most people his age. He’s already struggled with mental illness, and the stigma that surrounds it, for several years.

Jacob spent four months in the IWK inpatient mental health unit starting at age 17. He endured weeks of difficult medication changes, missed out on family and school events, even spending his birthday and the days leading up to Christmas in the hospital. Through it all, the IWK staff was there to help him, at times becoming almost part of his extended family. “They even took part in Christmas activities with me,” he says.

Today Jacob uses his own experiences to help other young people suffering with mental illness. He volunteers with the IWK Foundation and has worked to raise money for a new inpatient mental health unit for the hospital that will offer much improved care space for those with acute mental illness requiring hospitalization at the IWK. He speaks out to help improve adolescent mental health care in Nova Scotia, and he advocates for young people, to help them overcome the stigma that so often goes with mental illness.

“Mental illness is a disease like any other,” he says. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and there’s always hope. There are a lot of youth out there dealing with these issues. They need to know how they can access mental health care.”

He’s also attending Dalhousie University, working on a science degree and planning to major in neuroscience, microbiology and immunology. Jacob recently received a $40,000 scholarship to help him pay for university and he’s doing well with his studies, but he still deals with his illness every day. “I have good days and bad days,” he says. The hours he gives back as a mental health volunteer are one of the ways he copes. “I do it as a way to give back to the IWK. I lost a lot of time in my life because of my illness. I lost a year of school. The IWK helped me get better. They helped me get back to real life.”

Jacob says that people with mental illness need someone in their corner to help them get proper treatment in their most difficult days. That’s what motivates him to work so hard. “They need to fight for the right care, and the irony is they really aren’t equipped to fight,” he says. “There are a lot of patients who can’t speak about their problems, but I don’t mind speaking out.”

This story and many exciting others are available for FREE though Izaak Magazine’s fully interactive mobile app, available for download on the iTunes Newstand and Google play. You can also read Izaak magazine online through your desktop computer.


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Change Makers – Sonja

This article is a series of three, written by Tom Mason for the Fall 2013/Winter 2014 issue of Izaak Magazine – an in-depth, behind the scenes, all-access publication highlighting the incredible, everyday happenings at the IWK Health Centre. A stay at the hospital can be tough, but for some exceptional young people, it’s also a time to grow , gain strength and learn about who they are. 

Sonja Weilgart-Whitehead

Sonja Weilgart-Whitehead

At the age of 18, Sonja Weilgart-Whitehead is already an old hand at talking to the media. The Herring Cove teenager was just 15 when she spearheaded a media campaign that focused attention on evacuation policies at Halifax Schools – a campaign that changed those policies for students with mobility issues.

Sonja has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, a condition that comes with significant mobility challenges. “My high school had an evacuation policy that said they couldn’t carry disabled persons out of the building because it would risk injuring the person responsible for carrying the,” she says. “Instead, we were supposed to go to a designated safe area and wait for the fire department.” But the designated safe room in Sonja’s high school was located right above a propane tank, with furniture blocking the only window that rescue personnel could use to access it. “I know that if my school ever wet up in flames, I was going to be toast.”

I was a situation that Sonja had no intention of ignoring. She and her mother contacted the media and began a series of interviews to shed light on the topic. The campaign immediately caught the attention of Nova Scotia cabinet ministers Ramona Jennex and Marilyn Moore who offered her an apology and set out to change the school policy. “They changed it for everyone in the province,” she says. “It means a lot, even though I was almost ready to graduate. With the old policy, it was like they were saying my life wasn’t as valued as the other students.”

Sonja is used to overcoming challenges. Her first extended stay at the IWK began the day she was born, when she was 18 months old. She’s made many trips to the hospital since then. “Over the last six years I’ve been getting a lot better because of a phenomenal surgery that the IWK gave me. Now I can walk without tangling by feet, without being crumpled over. I can swim a lot better too. It’s forever changed by life.”

Today, Sonja is studying for her Bachelor of Arts (honours) degree at Carleton University in Ottawa, and received the Robbie and Jean Shaw Scholarship. She plans to go on to become a lawyer advocating for people with disabilities. She chose the university because of its unique program for physically challenged students – a program that includes 24/7 attendant services and full wheelchair accessibility. She is also nationally-classified para-swimmer on the Carleton varsity swim team and involved in horseback riding, sailing, skiing and rock climbing.

This story and many exciting others are available for FREE though Izaak Magazine’s fully interactive mobile app, available for download on the iTunes Newstand and Google play. You can also read Izaak magazine online through your desktop computer.


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Change Makers – Jacqueline

This article is a series of three, written by Tom Mason for theFall 2013/Winter 2014 issue of Izaak Magazine – an in-depth, behind the scenes, all-access publication highlighting the incredible, everyday happenings at the IWK Health Centre. A stay at the hospital can be tough, but for some exceptional young people, it’s also a time to grow , gain strength and learn about who they are. 

Jacqueline Wigle is busier than the average 20-year-old. In addition to a full slate of classes at Dalhousie University, where she majors in theatre studies, she devotes much of her spare time to helping young people cope with illness.

Jacqueline Wigle

Jacqueline Wigle

Jacqueline volunteers with “You’re in Charge” an IWK program that helps teenagers with chronic diseases and their parents learn to manage their own health. She also volunteers with Camp Brigadoon, a camp for kids with chronic illnesses in the Annapolis Valley. She advocates for social inclusion for children with developmental delays, speaks out about Crohn’s disease, and works with young people to help them through their own health issues.

Her drive to help others is matched with her empathy. Jacqueline was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease – a painful, and often severe, inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract – when she was 12. Her treatments meant at least eight lengthy stays at the IWK where she would undergo a procedure known as total parenteral nutrition (TPN) that provides all her food through intravenous fluids, a procedure designed to give her inflamed intestinal tract a rest. The TPN treatments often lasted two weeks at a time – a strain on any busy teenager.

“The hardest part is craving food,” she says. “I’d be okay until I saw food commercials on TV and then I would really start to miss the taste of it.”

Jacqueline calls Crohn’s “an unsexy illness” and says that sufferers often get ignored because of the stigma attached to a digestive disorder. “Let’s face it. It isn’t an easy thing to talk about,” she says.

Two years ago, as a member of the IWK Youth Advisory Council, Jacqueline headed up a project called “Passionate for T.P.” to lobby for better quality toilet paper for inpatients with gastrointestinal disease. “Patients with those kinds of problems spend a lot of time going to the bathroom,” she says. “Having a good quality toilet paper can be very comforting and helpful for them” Thanks to those efforts, today IWK inpatients can access higher quality toilet paper whenever they need it.

She manages to do it the way she meets every challenge in her life: through humour. “The best thing you can do when you’re dealing with something like this is to stay positive and try not to take things too seriously. If you allow yourself to see the funny side, it’s a whole lot easier to get through it.” That’s where her love of theatre, music and dance comes in.

“What matters is to be happy. That’s why I got involved with theatre and that’s why I got involved with the IWK. I wanted to be able to see my own hospital experience in a positive way. I wanted to get something positive from my illness.”

In the spring of 2013, Jacqueline received the Robbie and Jean Shaw Scholarship, an award given to former IWK patients who have made a difference in their community. She hopes to go to law school when she graduates and would like to channel her passion for advocating on behalf of young patients into a law career.

This story and many exciting others are available though Izaak Magazine’s fully interactive mobile app, available for download on the iTunes Newstand. You can also read Izaak magazine online through your desktop computer.


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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