Pledge Day an opportunity to help Calgary kids that ‘fall through the cracks’

John Vos discusses Pledge Day 2019
Leslie Horton speaks with John Vos from Corus Entertainment about #PledgeDay 2019.

The cacophony of the Pledge Day radiothon is the best part of the annual fundraising event, according to Calgary Children’s Foundation chair John Vos.

“It’s the noise, the hubbub. It’s just the activity of it all.

“It’s the culmination of all of the work that so many people do,” Vos said.

READ MORE: Calgary Children’s Foundation disburses Pledge Day funds to 30 charities

Friday, Global News Radio 770 CHQR hosts another Pledge Day, the only day the station and foundation seek funds from the listening public.

In 2019, the foundation granted funds to 30 children’s charities, with grants ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.

“It’s the listeners that really are central,” Vos said. “But we need the corporate pieces, our advertising partners, our partners here at The Westin.”

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READ MORE: Calgary charities, community come together provide life-changing renovation for local family

The Westin Calgary Downtown has played an important part of Pledge Day since the fundraiser’s beginnings, over 40 years ago. Westin employees fundraise throughout the year and are some of the dozens of volunteers that answer the phones during the 13-hour radiothon.

Michael Bitcon, director of operations at the Westin Calgary and Foundation board member, said he is “humbled and privileged” to play a role in a partnership that was established before he was born.

Calgary charities, community come together provide life-changing renovation for local family
Calgary charities, community come together provide life-changing renovation for local family

“The opportunity to give back a very small portion of my time to do cheque presentations or to meet once a year or twice a year on the board — there really isn’t much of a (time) commitment,” Bitcon said. “However, it’s something that I feel strongly about.

“Here are the kids in Calgary that we say fall through the cracks.”

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It’s a chance for us to be a part of something bigger than just working at the Westin Calgary.”

While Bitcon looks forward to the special energy of Pledge Day, he also relishes the opportunity to present the funds to the children’s charities that are raised during the annual fundraiser.

“It tugs on the heartstrings,” Bitcon said. “I sometimes think I’m a pretty put-together guy. But when you see the look on the faces of the kids that we’re impacting — direct results — it’s pretty heartwarming. There’s no better reward that I can really think of.”

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Arjun Channa, general manager at the Westin Calgary and a recent addition to Pledge Day, was surprised at how generous Calgarians have been despite a continued downturn in the economy.

“I was shocked how everybody still gives,” Channa said. “If they had $10 left in their pocket, they’ll still give three or four.”

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Even though Pledge Day has been a part of Calgary for over four decades, Vos said every radiothon is a little different for the foundation and the people behind the scenes.

“There’s always something very unique about each day,” the foundation chair said. “And as you come at it, there is some real deliberateness in what we do, the guests we have, the voices we hear. We know all of them because we’ve helped fund them, we’ve been behind them, we’ve supported them. And then when it happens, it’s completely different than what you thought it would be.”

“It’s this whole unique series of things that occurs during the day where it’s hits you — ‘Oh, that’s so nice. It’s so different.’”

To donate during Pledge Day, call 403-974-8255 between 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, or visit the Calgary Children’s Foundation.