My baby girl Hilary works as a Special Events Coordinator with the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation in Edmonton. Over the course of the year, she takes the lead role in orchestrating several major fundraising events, the most recent being the Radiothon.
Four radio stations from the Corus Entertainment group (i.e., CISN 103.9, COOL 880, 630 CHED and JOE FM) spent three days at the Stollery doing live broadcasts from the morning show right through to 7:00 p.m. each day.
I spent five hours manning one of the 40 phones on Friday afternoon. I’d never been part of anything like this and it’s really quite extraordinary to watch an event of this magnitude unfold. 17 members of the Foundation’s staff, 589 volunteers, countless families, umpteen radio and technical people — it’s a wee bit mind-blowing.
Because I’m ‘Hilary’s mom’ I was able to meet several of the DJs and people behind the scenes. Let me just say that CISN’s program director Chris Scheetz is every bit as charming, funny, compassionate and down-to-earth in person as he sounds like on the radio. Whew! It’s never good when the real-life persona of a celebrity is a disappointment. Equally funny and capable is Boyd Leader, program director of COOL 880 and JOE FM. I now have faces to put to the names of Hilary’s colleagues. What a joy as a mother to have everyone from media people to Hilary’s boss tell me what a wonderful person she is. I always knew it but it’s gratifying when others recognize it as well.
The real story, of course, is the miracles being performed daily at the Stollery, the premiere children’s hospital in Canada. I saw families being interviewed. I saw full-grown radiomen crying. From what I can tell, whether families have lost a child or are blessed to have had a child saved, they all gratefully articulate their story of care and compassion and the extraordinary skill of the staff.
I discovered a family from my own county who have a 10-year-old son born with spina bifida. Hilary got Chris to interview Austin one day after emergency surgery for a broken shunt (a device to keep fluid from building up on his brain). I met Sam’s parents. Friday was his due date, but he had arrived two months early and underwent heart surgery at age ten days old. Precious.
I had callers tell me they cried in their cars listening to the stories and felt compelled to call. I know that feeling. I also know I came with a one-time donation and ended up ripping up my cheque and going for the monthly gift instead. Thank God my two children were born healthy and aside from some minor health issues have never needed to spend even a day in a children’s hospital. I gave because maybe someday, God forbid, I’ll have a grandchild who’ll need a miracle. It’s the least I could do, from where I sit.