He wasn’t even there.

But Max Keeping’s impact was huge at a special announcement at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

The occasion was a $150,000 cheque presentation from the Max Keeping Foundation to the CHEO Foundation. Keeping was unable to attend due to health concerns.

It’s all the money the Max Keeping Foundation has left. After 20 years, Max’s fundraising organization to help disadvantaged children is winding down.

In its place, the CHEO Foundation is creating the new Max Keeping Fund for Kids.

“This is an endowment fund that will live on in perpetuity,” says CHEO Foundation President Kevin Keohane. “Which we think is an extremely fitting way to make sure that Max’s legacy continues to live on at CHEO.”

The fund will help patients and their families deal with everything from travel and living expenses to specialized equipment needs.

The long-time CTV news anchor has been a tireless supporter of CHEO. He anchored its annual telethon for years. There is a hospital wing named after him.

And when he wasn’t raising money, he was visiting kids there and raising their spirits.

“He’s just a special guy,” says Ryan Williams, a former CHEO patient who endured 55 surgeries for a blood vessel disorder. “I had some very dark days, some dark times and dark thoughts. And people like Max were who brushed that away for you and showed you the brighter side of life and (how) it could always be worse and all you can do is work to make it better.”

One of the reasons the Max Keeping Foundation is winding down is its founder’s own health problems. Keeping is battling stage four cancer and has lost his ability to speak.

But his long-time friend and Foundation Board chairman says it’s not the only reason. Dave Ready points out that other organizations like Jumpstart and the Ottawa Senators Foundation are now taking on the same role. “It was always the idea to fold at some point in time,” says Ready. “We had a great 20-year run. We raised a lot of money. We supported 6,000 families. So we thought why don’t we do out on a high note? The timing was right.”

The Max Keeping Foundation is no longer accepting donations. They can now be made to the Max Keeping Fund for Kids.