Spirit of Giving


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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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I’m Tristan Gallant, I’m 10 years old, and I approve of this message.

Moncton Change Bandit, Tristan Gallant

IWK Moncton Change Bandit Hero, Tristan Gallant

Tristan Gallant is this year’s Moncton Change Bandit Hero for the K94-5 & 103.9 MAX FM Cares for Kids IWK Radiothon. For the last few weeks, Tristan has been working hard to help raise $15,000 to support the most urgent priorities of the IWK Health Centre.

I felt very happy when the IWK Foundation asked me to be the IWK Change Bandit Hero this year. It’s really nice [to be selected] and really fun being on the radio. It’s really really fun. Everybody wants to talk to me and take pictures of me.

You can raise money as a change bandit by doing things like a sock hop and a hat day at school; by telling everyone you know how great the IWK is, and by collecting coins at a big store like Superstore. Your parents and friends can put their change all together and put it in your loot bag.

I like the nurses and doctors and Child Life people at the IWK. All the people there like Kate, and Carol, all the doctors and nurses, and all the rest of the people there are really nice to me.

The IWK is important to me because they helped me and a lot of other kids feel better, and they also saved my life when I had Cancer.

People should give money to the Change Bandit program to help IWK buy even better machines and better medicines to help kids feel better. I’m Tristan Gallant, I’m 10 years old, and I approve of this message. 🙂

The 5th Annual K 94-5 & 103.9 MAX FM Cares for Kids IWK Radiothon will be broadcasting live from Champlain Place Mall February 20 & 21 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.. 

Make a gift to the IWK Radiothon.


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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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Your support REALLY makes a difference.

National Philanthropy Day, on November 15th , is an especially meaningful day to the IWK Foundation.  It allows us to recognize and celebrate our donors for their year-round philanthropy in support of the IWK. The following is written by Brenda Murchison, mom to IWK patient, Parker.

Parker at the IWK Health Centre

Parker at the IWK Health Centre

People often ask me how I felt when I learned my then 8-year-old son, Parker, had cancer. I was in the emergency room; it was a rainy afternoon.  An amazingly kind doctor arrived to speak with me.  He did what all doctors do, opened with small talk, asked a few questions and did a physical exam on Parker.    As he spoke, I looked at his identification tag and one word stood out: “Oncology”.

Instantly, I felt numb and panicked…as if the ceiling was going to cave in.

“No!” I thought to myself. “Parker is such a cool kid. He loves to read, curl, ski and play volleyball & lacrosse.  He’s kind and polite.  How can this happen to him?”

As reality set in, I felt an aching pain all over, as I realized what my little boy would have to endure to heal his body.  Tests. Needles. Medication. Physical weakness. Loss of his soft, curly hair. Nausea.

Somehow, my husband Bruce and I knew we needed to pull ourselves together and make the best of an awful situation.  That helped us set the tone for the next three-and-a-half years of Parker’s treatment.

Bruce, Parker, Carter and Brenda Murchison

Bruce, Parker, Carter and Brenda Murchison

This journey has been as much about healing our whole family as it was about healing Parker.  It has helped us focus on what’s really important in life.  Our priorities shifted because we became intimately aware of a whole new world…the world of sick kids, cancer and amazing people, including donors like you.

Recently, Parker began his 12th and final round of chemotherapy.  He spent the day in the newly renovated oncology outpatient clinic on the sixth floor, hooked up to two smart pumps and wrapped in warm blankets from the blanket warmer.  He was entertained by his good friend Buddington, our Therapeutic Clown before drifting off to sleep attached to a new anesthesia machine.  For the first time, I had a real appreciation of donor impact – that’s because the renovation of our oncology unit, the purchase of smart pumps and anesthesia machine and funding for Buddington were all donor funded.  Parker was surrounded by the generosity of complete strangers from all around the Maritimes.  In essence, my son was surrounded by the generosity of complete strangers who simply wanted him to be well.

Parker Murchison.

Parker Murchison.

As Parker’s treatment was nearing its end, I realized my IWK journey was just beginning.  I felt compelled to give back. Like many other families who experience the IWK, I wished I had a million dollars to give. Instead, I was fortunate to begin working for the IWK Foundation, with donors like you, who are helping families like mine.  I began witnessing the outpouring of generosity of donors from around the Maritimes – all to help women and children who need the IWK.  I realized the IWK environment I had come to know over the past three years would not be what it is today without donors like you.

Parker completed his treatment on September 15th and is living a great life.  It is an honour for me to write this message on National Philanthropy DayYour support REALLY makes a difference.  Donors like you have made the IWK Health Centre exceptional.  Thank you for caring and for giving.

I hope you enjoy this video of Parker thanking donors like you.  Needless to say I am extremely proud!

~ Brenda


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The IWK hospital has been there for me and my family

Sheumas Campbell is a radio announcer for 103.9 MAX FM in Moncton, New Brunswick.  This year is his first year helping to host the K94-5 FM & 103.5 Max FM Cares for Kids IWK Radiothon. He took the time to share his personal connection to the IWK Health Centre

Sheumas Campbell, radio announcer for 103.5 Max FM in Moncton, Nova Scotia.

Sheumas Campbell, radio announcer for 103.5 Max FM in Moncton, Nova Scotia.

Just had to chance to share the story of my brother Logan with our listeners:

Logan began visiting the IWK in 1995 to help treat his high-functioning autism.

In 1999, my parents began noticing Logan was tripping a lot and having trouble keeping his feet straight. Doctors then referred us to the IWK hospital.

In 2003, Logan had a 5 day visit at the hospital, where doctors conducted every possible test on him to try and find the problem.

After the final test they conducted (a biopsy on his muscles), Logan was diagnosed with axonal neuropathy, an extremely rare disease where the cells in his muscles are either dead or dying, and will not regenerate.

Logan was followed by the neurology department at the IWK until he turned 19 last year.

The IWK hospital has been there for me and my family a lot over those 12 years, so this Radiothon really hits home for me personally.

Please make a donation and ensure that the IWK can help families like mine; especially with their travelling clinics which we attended regularly where they brought doctors down to our home in Cape Breton to check up on Logan every 6 months.

To make a gif to the K94-5 & 103.5 Max FM Cares for Kids Radiothon Call 1-800-595-2266 or visit www.iwkfoundation.org/monctonradiothon


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A decade of dedication.

Child Safety Link is an injury prevention program based at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, striving to help keep  newborns, babies, toddlers and children safe at home, on the road and at play; in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Minister of Health and Wellness David Wilson accepts a plaque from Sandra Newton, Manager of Child Safety Link.

This morning, the Child Safety Link program at the IWK celebrated a milestone. For the past 10 years, they have been working diligently to keep Maritime children and youth safe. Today, Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness, Dave Wilson, stopped by the IWK Health Centre to recognize and thank them for their service to the community.

Each year, 34 children and youth die in Atlantic Canada from unintentional injuries*.  Child Safety Link works hard to prevent these injuries by providing valuable information to families and caregivers across our region on such topics as child passenger safety, home and playground safety, poisoning prevention, pedestrian safety and helmet use. “We aren’t trying to get people to bubble-wrap their children, or prevent the everyday bumps and bruises,” said CSL’s Manager Sandra Newton. “We are trying to help prevent the major injuries that can completely alter the life of a child, and have lasting, devastating effects on their families and communities.”

Over the past decade, Child Safety Link has played a fundamental advocacy role in the development of numerous child safety initiatives, including the recent Nova Scotian Snow Helmet Act that makes is mandatory for people to wear ski and snowboard helmets while on the province’s ski hills. As of November 1, 2012, our province is now the first place in the world where this is a law!

Congratulations to Child Safety Link from the IWK Health Centre Foundation on a decade of keeping children and youth safe!

*Child & Youth Unintentional Injury in Atlantic Canada: 10 Years in Review (Safe Kids Canada)

Learn more about Child Safety Link, and methods to keep children of all ages safe.