Peter Burgess is set up for the week at Rainbow Valley Campground in Edmonton for his annual Freezing Father Fundraiser, which raises money for the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Over a decade ago, Burgess’ three-year-old daughter Elan suffered unexpected seizures one day and was rushed to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. While her condition improved slightly, her heart later stopped beating while at the hospital.
Elan was resuscitated by staff at the hospital and then hooked up to a ventilator but a CT scan later revealed the little girl was brain dead. Three days later, she was taken off life support.
“The loss of a child doesn’t get better with time; it gets different,” Burgess said. “I’m in my 13th year since Elan has passed and the last two years have been the most difficult.”
“We thought Elan would have been doing something special for the world and I’ve always wondered: what would Elan be doing now?”
He started the fundraiser four years ago, as a thank you to the staff. His goal is to raise $15,000. Last year, he surpassed that with $35,000.
The money raised will go towards purchasing equipment and funding the Crisis Intervention program for staff at the Stollery.
“Elan got the best of the best medical care at the Stollery, but the other part of the Stollery is how they help the rest of family. It’s a family centered care model,” Burgess said.
“It’s a tribute to the fact that we had almost 300,000 kids come to the Stollery last year, and when it comes to children’s health, the Stollery is the place to go in western Canada,” Foundation president and CEO Mike House said.
House said he has a new appreciation for the camp after he did an intense climb up Mount Kilimanjaro last year to raise money for the Stollery.
“I had a pretty good understanding of what Peter went through before, but now I really understand how hard it is.
“It’s not just about the cold, but it’s about the endurance of doing this hour after hour,” House said.
Burgess said the weather is warmer than previous years, but that has meant he sweats more and when it gets cooler, he gets cold.
“Who would of thought that warm weather means cold nights? I don’t know what I’m going to do if it goes down to minus 30 again,” Burgess said.
Temperatures are expected to dip to the minus 20s this week, but Burgess will continue to brave the elements until the Jan. 10. People can donate to the cause online.