10th annual Corus Radiothon raises over $175k for Children’s Hospital in London, Ont.

Pediatric patients, families and health-care team members shared their stories throughout the day on Global News Radio 980 CFPL, FM96, 103.1 Fresh Radio and Country 104. Kayla Kreutzberg / Children's Health Foundation

The 10th annual Corus Radiothon has raised $175, 412 in donations in support of Children’s Hospital in London, Ont.

The total was revealed late Friday following 12 hours of live broadcasting in the atrium at the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).

The annual fundraiser has collected nearly $1.6 million over 10 years for the Children’s Hospital, which goes toward providing specialized care for every patient, no matter their size.

The 2023 edition of the radiothon garnered more than $231,000 in donations.

Pediatric patients, families and health-care team members shared their stories throughout the day on Global News Radio 980 CFPL, FM96, 103.1 Fresh Radio and Country 104.

Children’s treats patients with various complex needs, with many often travelling from outside of London and surrounding area to get the high-quality care they need. Having the right equipment can mean a world of difference — and Lisa Doerksen’s son Oakley is a shining example.

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Lisa travelled from Leamington to have in-depth scans done during her pregnancy. In, London the technology can pick up deep images and Lisa and Oakley’s case, it picked up complications that have been bringing the family back to Children’s since.

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“Limb body wall complex is a diagnosis that affects your entire body inside and out. It’s considered incompatible with life. His organs were on the outside, we saw his organs covered in a really thin sac,” Lisa Doerksen says. “Most babies won’t make it through, and Oakley’s the third survivor we know of. He just turned three in November.”

Sarah Marshall was diagnosed with megacystis microcolon intestinal hypoperistalsis syndrome and had to have a life-saving multi-organ transplant. At five months old, Sarah received the first pediatric multi-organ transplant in Canada, and Children’s was the only hospital in Ontario that could perform it.

“I remember the doctors, nurses, all the staff that I’ve seen, how friendly they all are,” Sarah says. “They took you basically under your wing and taught you not as a patient, but they became your family. When people ask me about this hospital, I say it’s my home away from home.”

Dr. Craig Campbell, chair of the department of pediatrics, oversees the 30 different pediatric subspecialities at Children’s. He said events like radiothon are a great opportunity to thank donors and state how important these donations are for continuing to build the diagnostic capacity and quality of equipment, as well as child life specialists, music and art therapists.

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Kim Allred works as a music therapist at Children’s, using evidence-based practices to make patients’ lives better for their stay at the hospital.

“We work in all areas of the Children’s Hospital. We serve from the NICU dealing with itty bitty premature babies, all the way into our child and adolescent mental health units, and everything in between,” Allred says. “With the help of beautiful donors, we were able hire two more music therapists to add to our team. So, more therapists, more time, more kids served — that sounds like best care for kids I can think of.”

Kenneth Sperling, better known as Ollie the Clown, is another integral part of the care team at Children’s.

“I try to make them feel like this is a good place to be,” Sperling says. “That could be through humour, through chatting, to conversation. Just make them feel special and that they’re still kids. It’s a hospital yes, but they’re still human.”

Sperling says children and their families should be allowed to have fun and laugh, even though they are being treated for various conditions.

Nathan Hill is one of those patients. Nathan says it’s scary to go through the surgeries, but he has been able to put his trust in the people he interacts with at Children’s.

“Ollie the Clown has been such a big part of my journey through the hospital in my many years,” Nathan says. “I couldn’t have probably made it here without him. He’s just the best.”

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The 2023 radiothon gathered just under $232,000 in donations. The annual fundraiser, now in its 10th consecutive year, has collected over $1 million for Children’s, which goes toward providing personalized and complex care for each individual patient. The hospital treats almost 50,000 kids per year, which is about 120 to 200 kids a day.

At 17, Tammy Hedge was diagnosed with leukemia. Though she was treated in 1997, she still reflects on the high-quality care from hospital staff and healthcare professionals.

“They helped me out physically, emotionally, mentally, they totally helped all of our family. It was a real blessing back then,” Hedge says.

In the spirit of support, Hedge is part of John Zubick Ltd., a long-term donor of the Children’s Hospital and Radiothon.

“There was a box that was put into our office, and we were collecting change from our customers,” Hedge says. “There was only a little bit in there, and my dad said, ‘We can do better than that.’ So, we got an old pickle jar, we washed it out, and our customers faithfully donate to it every day.”

Since the pickle jar was established, the earnings have been donated to the Corus Radiothon for Children’s every year. This year, they were able to donate $9,110 in change and small bills from their customers, making it a total of $134,304.15 in donations from the pickle jar since it first hit the counter.


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