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The 41st annual CHEO Telethon on CTV Ottawa raises $720,600

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The 41st annual CHEO Telethon on CTV Ottawa raised $720,600 after a two-week campaign of raising money and awareness about Ottawa's children's hospital.

This year's telethon fundraising campaign began May 27. Over the last week on CTV News Ottawa, CTV Morning Live and Newstalk 580 CFRA, we heard stories about the important work the doctors, nurses, staff and volunteers at CHEO do every day, and about the impact CHEO has on the lives of children and families.

The tally comes from donations made online and by phone between May 27 and June 8 only, comparatively to a yearly tally presented in past broadcasts. 

"Our goal in the next five years is for no child to wait longer than what is clinically recommended for plan and scheduled care. Right now about 50 per cent do," said CHEO's president and CEO Alex Munter.

"We do need the community's help to do that because it requires us to have a bigger facility, to hire more staff, to have cutting edge clinical equipment and to have research."

The CHEO Telethon featured the stories of families who have benefitted from the care and services, continued examples of how CHEO has been contributing to the growth of this community since 1974.

The hospital celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. 

CHEO is a major institution in the nation's capital, serving children and their families not only from eastern Ontario but also from northern Ontario, western Quebec and Nunavut.

Over the last half century, it has grown into a major research institute, and it offers a full spectrum of care beyond emergency medicine, including schooling, autism services, mental health treatments, rehabilitation services, palliative care and training for health professionals. 

The hospital helps more than half a million children every year.

"The generosity of our community is truly remarkable,” said Steve Read, the president and CEO of the CHEO Foundation. “From upgrading equipment, supporting new research initiatives, improving our space and ensuring patient and family support programs are available, these funds contribute to life-changing moments experienced every day by patients and their loved ones at CHEO. As we conclude another successful fundraiser, I just want to say thank you to this community who has helped build this institution over the years."

The Telethon will be followed by an important fundraising campaign later this year that will be designed to raise funds for new capital projects throughout the CHEO campus over the next decade. 

@ctvnewsottawa Thank you to all the donors who raised a total of $720,600 over two weeks for CHEO! #cheo #ottawa ♬ MILLION DOLLAR BABY (VHS) - Tommy Richman

Meet the CHEO Telethon kids

As part of the CHEO Telethon, CHEO introduced us to six children and youth who have needed the children's hospital.

Aviyah lost both of her kidneys to polycystic kidney disease and cancer, and her life completely changed. She now requires life-saving dialysis treatments in CHEO's Medical Day Unit four mornings a week. With the support of her family and her CHEO care team, Aviyah is anxiously waiting to be cleared to receive a kidney transplant and reclaim her life.

Aviyah Simpson, 10, receives regular dialysis treatment at CHEO and gets schooling at her bedside. CHEO has become a home away from home for her. (Kimberley Fowler/CTV News Ottawa)

Eluin, better known as Lu, has always struggled with anxiety. But that escalated dangerously in 2022, leading to a mental health crisis. Referred to a network of professionals through 1Call1Click and care at CHEO, Lu now has a mental health toolbox with a collection of coping strategies.

Eluin 'Lu' Oudhoff took part in a dialectal behavioural therapy group program at CHEO in 2023 to help with mental health struggles. (CHEO/supplied)

Flo arrived a month early. She was born with a cleft lip and required specialized care under the watchful eye of CHEO's neonatal intensive care team. Flo was also diagnosed with a hole in her heart and hip dysplasia. Once stabilized she was able to go home to await a cleft lip surgery. Today, Flo is a healthy and vocal one year old full of life.

Florence Sexton is thriving months after surgery to fix a cleft lip. (Katie Griffin/CTV News Ottawa)

Helen was born prematurely and with multiple health issues. Diagnosed with Down syndrome, she has faced multiple challenges from infancy, requiring surgeries, long hospital stays and visits to multiple clinics at CHEO. An empathetic teenager, Helen wants to be famous someday, and help others along the way.

Helen Nuttal at CHEO with Zedd the Clown, the hospital's donor funded therapeutic clown. (Natalie van Rooy/CTV News Ottawa)

Parker's life changed in a moment with a diagnosis of Ewing Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer. What followed was an intense treatment protocol of chemotherapy, radiation and an elaborate surgery that involved removing the cancerous bone from his leg. A passionate hockey player, Parker is already back on skates and has his eyes on the future.

Parker McDonald's rotationplasty, allows him to use a shorter prosthetic, which lets him run, jump, and play sports.

Nadine has had a unique medical journey. After prenatal tests revealed a congenital heart defect, surgical intervention was performed while she was still in the womb allowing her heart to function at 80 per cent. She required open heart surgery at birth and was later diagnosed with a condition that caused the bones in her skull to join together too early. A proud CHEO School student, Nadine is a shining example of resilience.

Nadine attends the CHEO School where she has access to all the support she needs, including physiotherapy.

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