The thought of a fully operational children’s hospital in Saskatchewan leaves Jesse Beyer in awe.
Before he became Global Edmonton’s chief meteorologist, Beyer was growing up in Saskatoon. At six years old, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
“I spent days, weeks, months, years in the hospital. I missed an entire grade of school because of it,” Beyer said on Thursday.
“I walked through those doors at Global Saskatoon as a 13-year-old kid … to tell my story, to help raise funds and help raise awareness for this program,” Beyer said.
WATCH: Jesse Beyer attends opening of Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital
From 1994 to 2007, Global Saskatoon hosted a telethon in support of children’s health initiatives. At first, the goal was to raise money for child-specific medical equipment. The funds went to the Children’s Health Foundation, the precursor to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan and the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.
“We started to raise a lot of money, enough to fund pediatric ambulances,” said Lisa Ford, former station manager at Global Saskatoon.
Ultimately, it was a small part of the overall effort. In 1992, two doctors resolved to provide better, child-specific care for Saskatchewan kids. In 2009, the Saskatchewan government announced a $200 million commitment to the facility.
Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall sat in the front row of Thursday’s grand opening of the children’s hospital. When ground broke in September 2014, Wall said he wasn’t able to comprehend what the hospital would look like.
“You try to visualize it. In my wildest dreams, I don’t think I would’ve pictured in my mind something like this,” Wall said.
Donors and the hospital foundation contributed $75 million to the facility. Wall said it’s proof the province is “an exceedingly generous place.”
“Saskatchewan’s heart and character is unchanging,” he said.
Brynn Boback-Lane, president and CEO of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation, said there are no words to properly thank the donors.
“This is a testament to when you have a great idea don’t sit on it. Believe in it, go after others that believe in it with you and just go get it done,” she said.
The hospital begins receiving patients on Sept. 29.