Roger Neilson House surpasses $10M fundraising goal
OTTAWA -- For children who require palliative care, and their family members who need support, Roger Neilson House has been there to provide comfort in a time of need.
Now, through continued community support, they have achieved their multimillion-dollar fundraising goal.
When Roger Neilson House opened in 2006, in partnership with CHEO, a fundraising target of $10 million was set. On Thursday, only weeks after celebrating their 15 year anniversary, the centre surpassed that target.
“It is a major milestone," says Kevin Keohane, president and CEO of the CHEO Foundation. “Those are the contributions of people over a very long period of time people who understand that long-term funding for Roger Neilson House is essential.”
It’s a goal the Ottawa-Gatineau Youth Foundation has been committed too, delivering a cheque for more than $765,000.
"To be part of something like that within your community is pretty special," says foundation president and CEO Danielle Robinson. "They’re a beacon across our country and actually internationally in terms of the kinds of programs and opportunities that they're providing for children and families."
Roger Neilson House, named after the late longtime NHL coach, is an eight-bed paediatric hospice which provides essential care and support for children with life-limiting illness and families.
“The government does not fund that palliative care and hospice care to 100 per cent so we have about a 40 per cent annual shortfall that we need to gain from the community in order to provide all those services," says Roger Neilson House executive director Megan Wright.
“Hundreds of people come through here every year. Every day we look after kids from an in-patient perspective we provide grief and bereavement to families from the campus and beyond."
For Dean and Jeanine Otto, the facility provided comfort for their daughter, five-year-old Maddy, in her final days of life. It was time they could cherish, because of the dedicated and compassionate group of staff and volunteers.
The Ottos would continue to come to Roger Neilson House for more than two years to receive bereavement counselling. They met other families who were also dealing with the same grief. The centre helped them through a difficult time which made them want to give back.
They began Maddy's Gala, in honour of their daughter, and with a modest goal to raise $10,000.
On Thursday, they were honoured for their contribution. The gala has been able to donate $1 million since it began.
"We continue to knock it out of the park every year and the fact that we raised $1 million in 14 years, it's surreal," says Jeanine Otto. "We don't ever want to see Roger Neilson House go away."
"And that's what it's about," adds Dean Otto. "Being able to give back. We're lucky to have such a great community that supports our event as well."