As the temperature dips into dangerous lows in Alberta’s capital, an Edmonton father is camping out in the cold in support of a cause that hits close to home for him.
Peter Burgess’ daughter, three-year-old Elan, passed away from unknown complications 10 years ago.
“I got a phone call from our daughter’s daycare. She was having trouble waking up from her nap,” Burgess said on Wednesday. “My wife went to pick her up and when she got there, Elan was having seizures.”
She was taken to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Burgess said he watched as the physicians rushed to save Elan.
“I was holding her and she had a heart attack,” Burgess said. “Despite some amazing and heroic efforts by the medical staff, [they came to us later] and said, ‘We are still going to treat Elan, but from this point on, we are really treating your family because Elan is brain-dead.’”
Burgess said losing Elan was the beginning of a long journey with the hospital.
“We had a seven-year-old son, Ben,” Burgess said. “I had to tell him his sister wasn’t going to come home. You can imagine as adults, we’re destroyed. But he’s seven years old. My instinct was to insulate him from it.”
He said the Stollery gave him the strength — and the age-appropriate words — to break the news to his son.
“It helps him even today,” Burgess said. “The Stollery is about gifts. They give life, they give help, they gave me the words to tell Ben. There are some really happy things that come out of the Stollery.”
WATCH: The Tomato magazine editor Mary Bailey and guest Peter Burgess share details on A Freezing Father’s Fundraiser, in which Burgess will camp outside to raise funds for the Stollery Children’s Hospital in memory of his daughter. Bailey also shared how the Edmonton culinary community is pitching in to support the cause.
Burgess has been camping out in the cold at the Rainbow Valley Campground since last Friday and will stay there until Saturday. Money raised through his camping initiative will go towards purchasing less-invasive ventilators for the pediatric ICU transfer team.
Watch below: An Edmonton man has spent the entire week so far living outside in Rainbow Valley to raise money for the Stollery Children’s Hospital in memory of his late daughter. Global News checked in with him on Thursday.
“[Traditional ventilators are] not pleasant at all. I can imagine the horror that a small kid who is sick and doesn’t know what’s going on,” Burgess said. “These ventilators allow them to give them the oxygen they need through a little tube up their nose.”
Burgess’ fundraising goal of $15,000 has already been surpassed. As of Wednesday night, more than $18,000 had been raised. Burgess hopes to see that number go up even higher.
If you’d like to donate, you can head here.
You can hear more stories of families helped by the Stollery on Jan. 17 and 18 at the 19th Annual Corus Radiothon.
WATCH: On Jan. 6, 2017, Margeaux Morin spoke to an Edmonton father about why he was spending daysout in the cold to honour the memory of his late daughter and to make a difference in the community.
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