July 25, 2019

Gift of a lifetime honours brave young boy

It’s the ultimate gift to honour a music-loving boy. An $80,000 donation from Benjamin’s Gift of Music will help bring the music therapy program to life at Saskatchewan’s new children’s hospital.

The gift was made in celebration of Benjamin Batters, a young boy from Kipling, Saskatchewan who loved spreading positivity through music. At age 11, Benjamin received the devastating diagnosis of brain cancer. His health rapidly declined, but music was one thing that gave him joy throughout his illness.

“The piano was a great distraction for Benjamin during a difficult time,” said Donna Cross, Benjamin’s mom. “When he played, it also helped everyone around him to focus on the boy, not the illness. He was so talented and he learned first-hand how much music could heal.”

Benjamin’s cancer was aggressive. His brain tumour was diagnosed after it ruptured and he was rushed to Regina and then to Edmonton for emergency surgery. The surgery left Benjamin in a frail state – he had to re-learn walking and talking, among other things. After two weeks of fighting hard to recover, Benjamin was able to leave his hospital room and he headed straight for the piano. Despite the recent surgery and a right hand that he never regained full use of, his musical abilities took over and he played beautifully for his family.

Noticing how much Benjamin thrived on playing music, medical staff in Edmonton brought a portable keyboard to his room. Benjamin played his heart out at any chance he could. His in-hospital performances created special memories to leave behind after the cancer eventually claimed his life. On December 25, 2013, Benjamin passed away exactly six months after his tumour was found.

“After losing Benjamin, it’s important to me that his death results in a positive impact,” said Cross. “It helps to know his legacy will live on through music therapy at the new children’s hospital and he would be so thrilled to know that other sick kids will be helped by this program.”

The $80,000 goal was reached thanks to donors who gave generously towards the personal fundraising page on Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation’s website. These funds will help purchase instruments and equipment, storage and display cases for the music therapy program and help to provide training to staff at the new provincial children’s hospital.

“This thoughtful gift of music will make such an incredible difference to children in hospital,” says Lynn Redl-Huntington, Vice-President, Communications at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. “We are so grateful to Benjamin’s family and friends for recognizing the importance of music during difficult times in hospital. It’s a gift of love and consideration for all those who will follow this special young man.”

The Music Therapy Program will be part of the Child Life Zone in Saskatchewan’s new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, set to open in the fall. The 2,800 square foot space will be a place where pediatric patients and their families can play, learn, laugh and relax. It was created in partnership with country music legend Garth Brooks and his Teammates for Kids Foundation, The Mosaic Company and Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital is nearly complete and on schedule to open in Fall 2019.

To support Benjamin’s Gift of Music, you can donate here.

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