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Radiothon Ambassador Has Courage All the Way to the End Zone

13-year-old Charlie is sharing his story at this week’s Children’s Hospital Radiothon

If you were ever to meet Charlie you would never guess that he had major open heart surgery four years ago. When the energetic, happy-go-lucky 13-year old is not in school or spending time with family and friends you will probably find him playing guitar, football, hockey, basketball or on the green playing golf.

Charlie’s latest project is helping his teachers and classmates raise funds for the annual Children’s Hospital Radiothon in Regina this week.

“This is the first year he was asked to be a part of the Radiothon. When he found out he mentioned it to the principal at his school so they could organize a big fundraiser,” said Charlie’s mother Launa. “There was a kickoff and the entire school participated, including other children at his school that utilize hospitals in Saskatoon as well.”

Anne Lutz, Principal of St. Gabriel School in Regina, said having the entire school participate in the assembly and raising funds for the annual Children’s Hospital Radiothon was a good spirit activity that goes towards a great charity they like to support.

“Every year we do a bingo fundraiser at some point during the year for local charities, and we decided this year that the children’s hospital would be the one we support,” said Lutz. “Understanding the timeline was coming up, we quickly got some things together and decided we would do our bingo fundraiser last week.”

Young Charlie in hospital

The school assembly involved a speech by Charlie and a message from the mother of fellow Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation ambassador Brody, who had his second of two open heart surgeries at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

As excited as Charlie was to participate in a fundraising event or play his favourite sports, it wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for surgery to fix a VSD defect (hole) in his heart when he was just 9-years-old.

Charlie was born with a heart defect and spent nine years of his young life making regular visits to see a pediatric cardiologist, which meant driving to Saskatoon for appointments. While his heart defect was detected at birth, specialists originally believed that the hole might close on its own over time. In 2014, during a routine checkup, doctors decided that his over worked heart couldn’t wait any longer.

The travel to a new city was an expensive venture for the family. Both Charlie and his sister Georgia had to be taken out of school. While Charlie and his mom flew to Vancouver, dad Corywn and his sister George drove to meet them.

Charlie with mom Launa, big sister Georgia, and dad Corwyn

Launa said having a children’s hospital in Saskatoon would have made things a lot less stressful.

“It would have been way easier to stay in the province and not have the costs of travel. We would have had more family support, but it was what we had to do to get our boy healthy and well,” said Launa.

The biggest worry for Launa was the chance of her son getting a post-surgery infection.

“If he had an infection, we would be so far from his doctors in Vancouver. That was the biggest worry for us, coming home only to have something go wrong.”

The good news was there were no complications after Charlie’s surgery. This August he joined other young cardiology kids to walk with a PGA professional golfer at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open at the Wascana Country Club in Regina.

CP, through its CP Has Heart program, helped raise $2 million for a dedicated pediatric cardiology space and specialized equipment at the new provincial children’s hospital scheduled to open late next year. Since becoming the title sponsor of the CP Women’s Open, CP has raised $8.5 million for pediatric cardiac care across Canada.

“The opportunity to meet a professional golfer was an experience he will not forget,” said Launa.

“He had a great time. He is a junior member at the Wascana Country Club in Regina. He was quite excited about it.”

In spite of these unique opportunities made possible by his medical condition, Launa said it was a very trying time for her family, but she is confident her son’s positive spirit is what carried the family through a very stressful time for all.

 

 

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