You gotta sing when the spirit says sing

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Michael Vita loves riding his bike, rainboots and all. He says
Michael Vita loves riding his bike, rainboots and all. He says "Thank You!" to those who have made a gift through the Health Sciences Foundation to ensure the Health Sciences Centre has the equipment needed to heal those who are hurt or sick.
Michael Vita loves riding his bike, rainboots and all. He says "Thank You!" to those who have made a gift through the Health Sciences Foundation to ensure the Health Sciences Centre has the equipment needed to heal those who are hurt or sick.
Michael Vita loves riding his bike, rainboots and all. He says “Thank You!” to those who have made a gift through the Health Sciences Foundation to ensure the Health Sciences Centre has the equipment needed to heal those who are hurt or sick.

THUNDER BAY – There’s a whole lot of Raffi being played at our house lately. (For those who are unfamiliar with Raffi, he’s a children’s entertainer and one that I grew up listening to). In one of his songs he sings, “You’ve gotta sing when the spirit says sing,” and in that spirit, the kids (Michael, 3 and Emily, 8 months) and I went out for a walk/bike ride the other day to celebrate one of the last beautiful days of sun and warmth before Fall really takes over.

We had a great time zooming along the trail, checking out the leaves and playing with sticks and rocks by the river. What struck me most is how much the kids enjoy each other’s company right now and I’m savouring it since I know it won’t last.

I’m glad I can share my love of the outdoors with my kids and I was feeling quite grateful to live in a city where we could get out and be a part of such a striking natural setting. (Honestly, the light shining on the golden leaves that afternoon was about as good as it gets in my opinion.) Anyway, our walk got me thinking.

Recently, my Facebook Newsfeed has been filled with a 5 day gratitude challenge where people have to post 3 things for which they are grateful each day over the course of 5 days. It crystallized my thoughts that afternoon about how lucky I felt to be with my kids, outside, just enjoying each other’s company.

And I also thought to myself as I watched Michael speed away on his bike, faster than I could keep up with him, “I’m grateful that Michael’s leg is not broken.”

Probably not your average thought for a parent of a 3 year old. Here’s what you have to understand though; Michael, in his first 3 years of life, has managed to break his ankle/leg twice. The last time was exactly one week before our daughter Emily was born last February. Talk about great timing.

So it’s really nice to see him out riding his bike like a pro and not have anything fractured (and yes I’m absolutely expecting it to happen again…doesn’t everything happen in threes?)

Thinking about his leg and the number of times we’ve been in and out of the Health Sciences Centre with him (among other family members) also had me thinking how grateful I am to have a world-class healthcare facility here at our doorstep so that we don’t have to travel away from home.

I know we wouldn’t be able to have this type of facility without the support of our community, and especially each and every person who has chosen to be a donor to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation.

Last May, the Health Sciences Foundation hosted a reception to thank many of the donors who have made a tremendous impact at the Health Sciences Centre. Even though Emily was only a few months old at the time, I really wanted to attend to say thank you, and luckily, with the support of our extended family watching the kids, my husband Domenic and I were able to go.

The afternoon of the reception, I picked up Michael from daycare and was explaining to him that Mom and Dad would be going out for a few hours to the hospital so that we could be a part of the reception. As usual, he asked several questions about what was going on. Since he has been to the Health Sciences Centre so many times, I tried to use an example from his life so that he could better understand. I told him that we were going to go say thank you to people who had given money so that the Health Sciences Centre could have the equipment to take care of people when they were sick or hurt.

“Do you remember when you had to go for x-rays when your leg was broken?” I asked Michael. “Yeah,” he replied. “Well we’re going to go say thank you to people who gave money to make sure the Health Sciences Centre has x-ray machines so that when people like you have a broken bone, you get a picture taken so the doctors can help make it better.”

“Well, I want to come say thank you too,” he replied.

I’m not going to lie, that was a pretty special moment. And one I’ll probably remember for a long time.

I know he doesn’t understand the intricacies of healthcare or philanthropy, but he gets the very simple concept of saying thank you when someone takes the time to make a gift. I wish we could have brought him to the reception that day since his is such a simple and pure thanks.

As donors, we don’t often get to hear how our gifts have helped someone and most of us give without needing to hear exactly who we’ve helped. But knowing that a gift has made a difference in a life, be it that of a 3 year old boy with a broken leg who just wants to get back on his feet, or a 60 year old grandmother who had angioplasty and is raring to keep up with her grandkids, makes it extremely worthwhile.

And as we celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, it’s a wonderful reminder for all of us to say thanks for all those things for which we are grateful. Especially our world-class Health Sciences Centre and each donor who continues to enable advancement in healthcare.

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