2014 proved to be a year of miracles for the 122 families supported by the David Foster Foundation, as they waited for successful organ donor transplants across Canada.

With less than ten pediatric transplant hospitals across the country, families are often required to temporarily move to live in larger centres while they wait for a successful match and transplant surgery. This means two sets of bills to pay, often with at least one parent taking leave from their job to move with their child. The David Foster Foundation fills the gap by supporting the non-medical essential expenses of families with children waiting for, and recovering from, pediatric organ transplants.

One 2014 story which showcased the lasting impact of the Foundation was five-year old Curtis Kellar. The Kellars had been supported by the Foundation since Curtis was three years old, when it was discovered he would need a new heart. The Kellars moved from Lethbridge to Calgary and over the years travelled to Edmonton for hundreds of exams and tests. Curtis kept track of all his days in hospital with a chain of beads, which he proudly displayed across the full stage the night of the gala, held at the WestJet Campus in Calgary, AB, just two and a half weeks post his successful heart transplant surgery. That same night, the 2014 Miracle Gala & Concert made history for the Foundation, raising a record-breaking $8.2M towards our goal of raising 30 million by the 30th anniversary.

Invaluable funds raised each year supports families by helping to pay everything from groceries and gas to rent and flights. In cases of pediatric organ transplant, close to 85 per cent of families end up bankrupt and, often divorce; the Foundation’s goal is to provide financial assistance in order to help keep families together and support them through this difficult time.

Logan Vandermeulen received his heart transplant at BC Children’s Hospital at 10 months old after being the first infant in BC to be placed on the Berlin Heart while he waited for his heart. Logan was diagnosed in utero with a heart blockage. When Logan was 1 day old he outfitted with his first pacemaker, and at three months old he was diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy and was listed for a heart transplant. The David Foster Foundation was able to assist the Vandermeulen family from Prince George with accommodation and transportation while mom Veronica and Logan waited in Vancouver for his heart. With the help of WestJet, the Foundation was able to fly Logan’s dad, Jason and their older son Elias down to visit during their long transplant journey.

Another transplant recipient, Shelby Penny, received a liver transplant from her father (who is now referred to as a ‘living donor’) in December. Her dad, David, travelled with her from Newfoundland to Ontario, preparing for surgery at Toronto’s SickKids, and recovering at the city’s Ronald McDonald House. Shelby was hospitalized with biliary atresia at just seven weeks old and was hospitalized in on Aug. 20, 2014. Knowing that Shelby and her dad would be away from her mom and two siblings until the New Year, the David Foster Foundation worked to bring the entire family together, flying the rest of the family to be with David and Shelby in Toronto on Christmas Eve.

Since 1986, the David Foster Foundation has supported Canadian families. On average, the Foundation supports between 150 and 200 families each year, requiring significant fundraising efforts to extend and maintain this level of support. Most families require close to $10,000 a year to help offset their additional expenses. This amount can extend upwards of $100,000 annually. Financial and in-kind support for the David Foster Foundation comes from national partners, such as TELUS, WestJet, Aird & Berlis LLP, Schnitzer, AMJ Campbell Vanlines, Hope Air, and Deerfields Clinic; private donors; the annual Miracle Gala & Concert; and grassroots donations from Canadians.

For more information, visit www.davidfosterfoundation.com.

About the David Foster Foundation

David Foster is a proud Canadian, Recipient of the Order of Canada, Officer of the Order of Canada, 50-time nominee and 16-time Grammy Award winner (including three for Producer of the Year), three time Oscar nominee, Golden Globe winner, seven time Juno Award winner, Emmy award winner and has the distinguished honour to have his star on both the Canadian and Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is the man behind the biggest hits, with more than half a billion records sold.

Foster launched the David Foster Foundation in his hometown of Victoria in 1986. Across Canada, the David Foster Foundation financially supports families for all non-medical expenses while their children are undergoing lifesaving organ transplants. Thanks to its annual fundraising efforts and the generous support of national partners like TELUS, WestJet, Aird & Berlis LLP, Schnitzer, AMJ Campbell Vanlines, Hope Air and Deerfields Clinic families receive support for expenses incurred when travelling away from their homes to be with their child during transplant.

In 2014, the Slaight Family Foundation, Newton Glassman Foundation in partnership with Catalyst Capital Group Inc., Jim & Sandi Treliving, and Tan Sri Dr. Francis Yeoh joined the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and TELUS as the Foundation’s $1M Life Legacy members.

The Foundation also promotes organ donor awareness and registration in both Canada and the United States. For more information, visit www.davidfosterfoundation.com.

Media contacts:
Brian Cant, Tartan Group: 250-592-3838, 250-888-8729 (cell) or brian@tartangroup.ca
Deirdre Campbell, Tartan Group: 250-592-3838, 250-882-9199 (cell) or deirdre@tartangroup.ca