January 4, 2019 7:36 pm
Updated: January 10, 2019 12:49 pm

Edmonton’s ‘freezing father’ begins annual January camp-out in daughter’s memory

WATCH ABOVE: As the man known as Edmonton's "freezing father" settles into his fifth night of camping out in the cold to raise money for the Stollery Children's Hospital, he got the chance to break bread with some of the city's frontline health-care workers. Margeaux Maron reports.


Cooler temperatures and a fresh blanket of snow will greet Peter Burgess as he begins his annual week-long camp-out in support of the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

This is the third year Burgess has braved the January elements for the cause, smashing fundraising goals along the way. In 2017, the “freezing father” aimed to raise $15,000 but ended up generating $47,000.

WATCH BELOW: Morning news reporter Kent Morrison joined Peter Burgess during his annual week-long camp-out in support of Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital.

It’s Burgess’ hope that camping out in the cold this year will help fund renovations to the Stollery Children’s Hospital pediatric intensive care unit.

“Medical equipment is expensive,” said Burgess, “and medical equipment for children is off the charts.

“Everything has to be miniaturized, everything is scaled down and specifically built for kids.”

READ MORE: Edmonton dad braves the cold to raise over $40,000 for Stollery Children’s Hospital

Watch below: (From Jan. 9, 2019) The man known as Edmonton’s “freezing father” is well into his annual fundraiser and now he’s getting a tasty reward for braving the cold temperatures. Margeaux Maron reports.

Unfortunately, Burgess knows firsthand how important state-of-the-art medical equipment is for sick kids.

More than 10 years ago, his beautiful and healthy three-year-old girl, Elan, had several seizures one day out of the blue. She was immediately rushed to the Stollery where her condition improved slightly.

A CT scan revealed a healthy-looking brain. But later at the hospital, her heart stopped beating.

Elan Burgess was just three-years-old when she became suddenly ill and passed away at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

Candace Toews

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Burgess said he and his wife Candace watched as the physicians gave Elan CPR.

“Her tiny chest [was being] compressed by just three of the doctor’s fingers,” Burgess said. She was resuscitated and transferred into the pediatric intensive care unit. Everyone was hoping for the best.

But the next time the parents saw their little girl, she had taken a turn for the worse.

“She was hooked up to a ventilator which was breathing for her,” Burgess said.

“Only then did we realize how desperate the situation was.”

WATCH BELOW: Margeaux Maron reports on Peter Burgess begining his annual week-long camp-out in support of Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital.

Another CT scan revealed a brain stem so swollen that circulation to her brain had been choked off. This was just six hours after they had arrived at the hospital.

“My little girl was brain dead,” Burgess said.

Three days later, the parents held their daughter in their arms for the last time as she was taken off life support.

Despite the tragic end to their visit, the family has supported Stollery fundraisers ever since.

“I will do anything for the Stollery, they did so much for us,” Burgess said.

He said the staff did the best job they could and were so compassionate towards his family — especially Elan’s older brother, Ben.

Elan Burgess was a happy and healthy three-year-old.

Candace Toews

Burgess is proud to have helped fund a specialized vein finder that is now being used at the hospital.

“They shine on the child’s arm and it reveals the veins,” Burgess explained, “everybody hates getting needles, [and] with kids it’s awful… now it’s one poke and it’s done.”

“I recall when Elan was in the hospital and because she was dehydrated and in shock they had to really search for a vein and it was hard to see.”

He will be camped out in the Rainbow Valley Campground from Friday, Jan. 4 to Friday, Jan. 11. He is sleeping in a tent, eating outdoors and sharing his daughter’s story with anyone who will listen.

On Jan. 6, 2017, just as temperatures were set to plunge in Alberta’s capital, Peter Burgess was spending an evening out in the cold in honour of his late daughter

Margeaux Morin/ Global News

He is welcoming visitors all week to site #26 — just look for the orange tent.  You can support his fundraising efforts by donating here.

With files from Jennifer Ivanov, Global News.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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