December 1, 2017 8:30 am
Updated: December 1, 2017 4:32 pm

Pledge Day 2017 kicks off in Calgary, raising money for local children’s charities

News Talk 770

Felix Choi was diagnosed with autism after his second birthday.

He was enrolled at Janus Academy at age six and his mother, Susana, said her son has blossomed as a result. Susana said early on in her son’s diagnosis, she struggled to communicate with Felix, but that through Janus Academy she’s learned new ways to interact with him.

“We’ve realized it’s more than just speech,” she said. “He understands what we’re saying and, you know, now we can have conversations and he doesn’t talk back, but I know he understands.”

WATCH BELOW: How Pledge Day helps organizations like the Janus Academy 

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READ MORE: Pledge Day donations help bring expensive equipment to Providence school

Janus Academy was established in 1997 as a school that could provide specialized education for students with autism. It is just one of more than a dozen local organizations that have benefited from donations raised during Pledge Day for the Calgary Children’s Foundation.

For over 40 years, the annual radiothon — hosted by News Talk 770 — has raised money to help kids in need throughout the Calgary area. In 2016, Calgarians and local businesses donated more than $300,000.

LISTEN: Kids Up Front executive director speaks with Gord Gillies about Pledge Day

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Janus Academy executive director Carlene Chrumka said money donated through Pledge Day and the children’s foundation has gone toward the school’s music therapy, IT and physical education programs.

“All of our kids have one-to-one workers, so the majority of our money goes into that. So any of the extras for extra programming, such as the music therapy or physical education programs, we have to raise for ourselves,” she said, explaining how the money is distributed.

LISTEN: How Pledge Day has helped Closer to Home

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Susana said it’s those programs that have helped strengthen her bond with Felix.

“Because of the things he does here, we’re able to enroll him in things he can enjoy after-hours at Janus Academy, like dance programs and the physical education,” she said. “He’ll practice soccer here and then we can kick a ball around, which is great.”

Chrumka said for organizations like Janus Academy, every dollar counts.

“Everything makes a considerable difference to the kids because that’s where all the money is going – it’s not going to overhead – it’s going to the kids and the extra programs that make their experience with Janus so much more,” Chrumka said.

Pledge Day starts at 5:30 a.m. Friday and continues until 6:30 p.m.

Donations can be made in person at Corus Centre on 17 Avenue all day Friday, or online.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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