As the third wave of the pandemic rolls in with accelerating force, restrictive measures go back into place, and the light of the end of the tunnel seems to be dimming, we all need to find sources of inspiration and optimism.
Our inspiration comes from the stories we hear from families who continue to struggle to access services and must keep their children in remote learning to protect their health and safety. Families continue to stress the vital need for equipment in their homes to prevent injury to their children and themselves as well as provide greater mobility and independence. Youth who attend our ongoing virtual camp activities have shared how important Camp E-aster Seals is in enabling them to connect with peers and providing activities to reduce their social isolation.
It comes from our Services team who are working tirelessly to process requests with the limited funding we have available. In the first three months of 2021 alone, we have received over $600,000 in requests for equipment funding with more arriving daily. Families need our help.
It also comes from our Recreation team who struggled with the reality that in-person camp was not a safe option for this summer and then channeled all their energy into expanding our remote camp program to break down barriers and make it more accessible to a broader group of children and youth.
We are also inspired by the fierce dedication of our Development staff who have pivoted, stretched their creativity, and turned on a dime to find new ways of raising awareness and support, along with our Finance and IT team who have implemented new systems, adapted processes and taken on additional responsibilities in response to new and changing demands.
The support we have received from individuals, sponsors and volunteers is profoundly inspirational. When we had to reimagine our Snowarama events earlier this year and go virtual, our long-standing, dedicated group of supporters came through, raising close to $95,000 to benefit Easter Seals kids.
Undeterred by this year’s virtual format, the Rogers Conn Smythe Dinner committee has shown extraordinary resiliency and resourcefulness in putting together the most celebrated line-up of head table guests in recent years to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the event on May 6. We are also deeply honoured and humbled by the favourable response of Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Connor McDavid, Hayley Wickenheiser and Joe Thornton to participate along with our hosts Christine Simpson and Gord Stellick, as well as sponsors who have generously come on board and those who have returned with levels of support consistent with previous years.
Our committed Telethon volunteers are another group who have shown up for us in spades, some twice in the past six months. From volunteer committee members, hosts, and production staff, their efforts to ensure Easter Seals’ stories are told and funds for the children are raised have been relentless. As a result of the current circumstances, we have had to postpone our telethons in Kingston and Peterborough. However, these dedicated volunteers have worked with our families, heard their stories, and understand the need, so when it is safe, we know this group will ensure the show goes on. We are ever so grateful for their incredible commitment.
The light at the end of the tunnel may seem a little dim, but it will get brighter. In the meantime, if you’re looking for some inspiration, read about some of our families and volunteers. If you can, please lend your support and provide some inspiration of your own to a child who could really use some right now.
With much gratitude,
Kevin. J. Collins
President & CEO