Hockey Blog In Canada is proud to present another charitable organization that is receiving help from the NHLPA. Today, I'd like to present the work of Toronto Maple Leafs' forward Matt Stajan, and his efforts in helping Cardiac Kids, an organization helping children with congenital heart disease at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Mr. Stajan, the Mississauga, Ontario native, has gone beyond the call of duty as a spokesperson, and Cardiac Kids cannot be happier. Rather than just speaking about the children who need help, Mr. Stajan spends as much time as possible with the children, and the children get to spend time with one of their hockey heroes.
Mission Statement: From their website, "Cardiac Kids is a volunteer group founded in 2000, established to raise much-needed funds for children who are suffering from congenital heart disease". They also provide "funding for educational seminars for patients and their families, as well as Camp Oki, the first Canadian camp for children with pacemakers". But their mission doesn't stop there as they award five scholarships to "Cardiac Program nurses to maintain their position at the leading edge of pediatric cardiology nursing". That's pretty special.
How Did Cardiac Kids Start?: As stated above, Cardiac Kids got its start in 2000 by a gentleman named Jeff Neiman. The goal was to raise as much money as possible to assist the cardiology ward at The Hospital for Sick Children.
Mr. Neiman originally had two other Maple Leafs as spokesmen, namely Shayne Corson and Darcy Tucker. However, as the organization grew, Cardiac Kids wanted someone as the face of the growing organization - someone who could grow alongside the organization - and Mr. Neiman found Matt Stajan's enthusiasm.
Congenital heart disease is a serious affliction for children with 8 out of 1000 children born with congenital heart defects. As their website says, "[l]ast year in Canada there were approximately 400,000 births, which means that in this country alone, approximately 3200 children were born with some form of heart defect". Approximately 36,000 babies in the United States are born with congenital heart disease each year. A congenital heart defect is a defect in the structure of the heart and great vessels of a newborn. Heart defects are one of the most common birth defects, and have become the leading cause of birth defect-related deaths. There are many different types of congenital heart defects that can vary in severity.
I'd say that is a pretty serious affliction for a newborn to overcome. However, "CHD may be treated with certain medications, minimally invasive procedures, and surgeries that offer the promise of a much brighter and healthier future". For more information regarding CHD, its symptoms, and its treatments, I encourage you to read this website's information.
"We were looking for someone to do the so-called 'dirty work'," Mr. Neiman stated to the NHLPA. "It wasn't going to be a role that was all glitz and glamour. We needed someone to spend some quality time with the kids and to also help acknowledge the wonderful work the nurses do in taking care of the children."
Not only has Mr. Stajan done that, but he has done so much more. Matt routinely shows up at the hospital to spend time with the children in the cardiology ward at The Hospital for Sick Children. He never has to be asked to show up. Rather, he calls Cardiac Kids and asks if he can go.
"Can you believe it? Matt calls us to ask if he can go to the hospital," praised Neiman. "It's simply unbelievable how open and caring he is about this. He's always willing to do his part without looking for praise."
The kids at The Hospital for Sick Children cheer on their hero whenever they can, and he returns the favor by visiting as often as he can. He's also brought along some of his teammates so that the kids can meet more of their heroes, as seen here with Carlo Colaiacovo.
Clearly, Mr. Stajan's work with Cardiac Kids is making life for these young hockey fans much better, and that cannot be overlooked.
How Can I Help?: There are a number events that Cardiac Kids holds in order to help in their fundraising efforts. The 2008 event list is here, and while we've missed most of them, there is still one event listed. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, here's your chance to help the Cardiac Kids Foundation.
If you'd like to make a donation to Cardiac Kids, there are two ways to do so. The first is by credit card, and that can be done by following this link. You'll receive a tax receipt, so it's good for you and it's great for the children. The second way is to send your donation in by cheque. To do so, please print off this form, and send your completed form and cheque through the mail to:
2450 Victoria Park Ave.
Toronto, ON M2J 4A2
If you do have any questions about Cardiac Kids, I encourage you to fill out the online form found on their website. You can also send them a question via email at info-at-cardiackids-dot-ca if you prefer to personalize the question. You can also reach them by telephone at (416) 850-9055 extension #228. If you'd like to reach them by snail mail, please follow the address listed above.
Cardiac Kids, the NHLPA, and Matt Stajan are helping the communities they live in. It's time for us to help them as well.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!