Community

Proving ‘anyone can make a difference’

Peace Arch Elementary students Kaitlyn Hlavacek (left) and Rori Denness hold up a Ronald McDonald House poster. The Grade 6 students will be holding a fundraiser for the expansion of the house. - Sarah Massah photo
Peace Arch Elementary students Kaitlyn Hlavacek (left) and Rori Denness hold up a Ronald McDonald House poster. The Grade 6 students will be holding a fundraiser for the expansion of the house.
— image credit: Sarah Massah photo

Reading the newspaper together a few weeks back, best friends Kaitlyn Hlavacek and Rori Denness noticed an article that struck a chord.

The Grade 6 students’ eyes perused the page sharing the story of children, the same age as themselves, who were ill and being turned away from Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver due to lack of space. And of the sick children who were fortunate enough to be staying at the house, there wasn’t enough room for all to have their parents by their sides.

“When I saw that article, I was just like, ‘Wow, people can’t be with their families. That would be really hard. I would be really sad if I was in that situation,” Kaitlyn, 12, said.

After brainstorming, the two girls decided to combine an upcoming event for their softball team – both play for White Rock Renegades – and a school project for their Peace Arch Elementary health-and-career class into a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House.

“We had a responsibilities project, and you had to choose to either take care of yourself, take care of others or take care of a place. We chose to take care of others,” Rori, 11, explained, noting she has a cousin who stayed at Ronald McDonald House in Calgary.

“When we presented this project in front of the class, I think it really opened up a lot of other peoples’ eyes.

“It showed them that they can do something like that.”

The event, which the girls named Great Escape for The Kids, will feature an evening of playtime Feb. 27 at Great Escapes in Langley.

The $20 admission will include a choice of two activities – laser tag, air trek or 3D mini golf – a slice of pizza or hot dog and a small fountain pop.

“So far, we’ve already sold 57 tickets, and with the tickets, $8 will be donated to Ronald McDonald House,” Rori said.

“We’ve raised more than $400, and we have $111 in donations. And the really cool thing is that the government matches that amount,” Kaitlyn added.

The girls still have nearly 100 tickets to sell, and they plan to donate the money they raise to the expansion of Vancouver’s Ronald McDonald House, which is currently located on King Edward Avenue.

So far, the organization has already found land even closer to BC Children’s Hospital and big enough to build a new 74,000-square-foot house, which will be able to serve the needs of up to 73 families at a time – significantly more than the 13 they are currently able to accommodate.

BC Ministry of Health will match every dollar donated towards the expansion.

“I think it would be better if they had a bigger house with more space, and they said they are planning lots of stuff involving the kids.

It would be a lot more fun for them, and of course, being with your family makes you happier,” Kaitlyn said, noting the rooms would be similar to suites with a five-piece washroom.

With help from their friends and family, the girls are hopeful they will sell all their tickets and plan to continue volunteering at Ronald McDonald House.

“Our parents are very proud of us and have been supporting us a lot. They think it’s pretty cool what we’ve done,” Kaitlyn said, adding they recently dropped off a care package of baked goods at the house.

“It just goes to show that anyone can make a difference.”

For more information, or to purchase tickets, contact Rori at 604-535-8968 or sdenness@shaw.ca or Kaitlyn at 604-541-1696 or hlavacek@telus.net

 

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