During this year’s give a little life day, Prince Albert stepped up and gave a lot.
The final total from Friday’s radiothon to support the Victoria Hospital was $1,003,296.25, an increase of about 182 per cent from last year.
With big donations from local philanthropists like Malcolm Jenkins, a few bequeaths from estates and a steady trickle of donations from local businesses, residents, service groups and even children donating money from their lemonade stand, the2018 campaign shattered expectations.
With $329,000 by 11 a.m., the campaign was off to a strong start, almost equalling last year’s total by lunch.
As the day continued, the donations continued to pour in, until the record amount, over a million dollars, was raised by the 6 p.m. cutoff.
All proceeds will go towards expanding the crowded neonatal unit, which is currently operating out of a former surgical closet that’s only 375 square feet in size.
Only four babies can be cared for in the room at one time.
The funds will go towards a multi-year, $2.2-million initiative to expand the space to 4,000 square feet and purchase updated equipment.
Speaking to The Herald in the morning, Victoria Hospital Foundation executive director Sherry Buckler was shocked with how well the initiative was doing, but she wasn’t surprised by the extent of local generosity.
“When Prince Albert feels strongly about something, this community has shown over and over again how it can rally,” she said.
“I’m so proud to be in this community and say we’re doing this for our babies. Everyone is wrapping their arms around this campaign. We’re just very very grateful.”
Donations weren’t just coming in from the local community. Contributions were coming in from across the province, including from as far as Yorkton. The story also received attention from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.
The long-distance support is fitting, Buckler said, as the hospital serves babies from everywhere.
“I think, as we move forward under the new health authority, we understand the greater vision of health care, and that absolutely health care affects us all,” she said.
“We take care of babies from all different corners of the province. We play a major role in helping Saskatoon and Regina. I think that’s why we’re seeing that today. Everyone understands that and appreciates that and wants to do their part.”
The radiothon was broadcast on Power 99, 900 CKBI and XFM. Donations were made online, over the phone or in person. Parking was free for the day.