The Spirit of Generosity: How One Boy Turned His Birthday Party into a Hospital Fundraiser

November 01, 2018

Xavier Petrolito, Runnymede Healthcare Centre's youngest donor, forewent birthday presents to make a difference in the lives of patients.

When it was time to plan his sixth birthday, Xavier's mother, Shannon, presented him with a different idea for a party: in lieu of presents, they would ask guests to make a donation to a worthy cause.

"We asked, 'how do you feel about getting your friends together and making a donation to a community in need?'" Shannon said. "It's always exciting for a child to choose what they want to do."

Xavier immediately picked Runnymede Healthcare Centre as a recipient because he'd visited the hospital several times before with his junior kindergarten class through Runnymede's intergenerational program.

Runnymede currently enjoys monthly visits during the school year from kindergarten students who visit with patients and share in special activities, such as arts and crafts projects.

 "The intergenerational program is a wonderful initiative that benefits not only our patients, but also the students who participate," said Sharleen Ahmed, Runnymede's VP, Strategy, Quality & Clinical Programs. "We've seen a boost in patients' engagement when they interact with the children. In turn, the program provides children with an opportunity to develop a greater appreciation for senior citizens and become comfortable around people with some level of disability."

 Xavier's generosity is an illustration of how Runnymede Healthcare Centre's intergenerational program has a lasting impact on both the children and patients.

"The intergenerational program had an effect on him," Shannon said. "I was so grateful that he had that experience."

Xavier had a skating party for all of his friends and raised $135 for Runnymede Healthcare Centre in the process using an online platform called Wish & Give which allows Canadian to plan events and raise money for their favourite local charities.  Xavier was thrilled by how much he was able to raise for his birthday.

The generosity of Runnymede's donors helps us at every turn – from the everyday running of the hospital to realizing our ambitious dreams for the future.

"We could not achieve our level of excellence without the support of our whole community," Sharleen said. "We are so grateful for the efforts of all our donors."

"It's so easy for children to think that they're the centre of the universe," Shannon said. "Even though it's a special time on their birthday, it's also important to be aware of what is happening in the community and what is happening around them."

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