Children’s faces were all aglow on Thursday night in the Atrium at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).
For the first time in the Hospital’s 134-year history, the Olympic Flame passed through the doors of SickKids to make one of its many stops along a coast-to-coast, 106-day journey. It wasn’t simply one torch but a total of FOUR torches and torchbearers that entered into the Atrium at SickKids.
The lit Flame was carried in by Stephanie Belanger, a social worker in the Crisis & Psychosis program at SickKids, and made its grand entrance in the Atrium a little after 7 p.m.
Stephanie and the other torchbearers were greeted by more than 300 cheering patients, their families and SickKids staff. Team SickKids, who took part in the World Transplant Games this summer in Australia, lined the running route decked out in their Canada uniforms and proudly displayed their medals. Ben Mulroney made a special guest appearance to host the event.
Stephanie raised the flame to light the torch of the next torchbearer. In total, four flames were lit in the Atrium and the Canadian Anthem was sung. Patients and their families stood along the windows on the eight floors of the Atrium to participate in this momentous event.
Along its journey, the Flame will pass through more than 12,000 Canadian hands en route to B.C. Place in British Columbia where the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron will signal the start of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.
RBC is a Premier National Partner of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and a presenting partner of the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. It chose to bring the Olympic Spirit to SickKids and requested that a SickKids staff member from psychiatry carry the torch.
RBC has a long-standing history with the Hospital; this year marks the 22nd anniversary of their relationship. To date, a dedicated team of RBC employees have raised more than $2.6 million for SickKids. In addition, RBC Foundation committed $2 million in 2007 to further much-needed training, research and outreach for paediatric mental health at The Hospital for Sick Children.
Torch photos taken by Dodge Baena and Atrium photo taken by Jay Charendoff
Santa’s Workshop is a very busy place these days, but that didn’t stop a few of Santa’s elves from taking the afternoon off to bring some joy to patients at SickKids.
Santa’s sleigh is still in the garage being prepared for the big day, so it was up to members of 400 (City of Toronto) Tactical Helicopter Squadron to give Santa’s elves a lift to SickKids this afternoon as part of Operation SickKids HO HO HO.
Joining Santa’s six elves this year were Toronto Maple Leafs players Mike Komisarek, Francois Beauchemin and Luke Schenn, who helped deliver a load of toys, books and donations.
Two Griffon helicopters departed Canadian Forces Base Borden, where the elves spent some time becoming acclimatized to our warmer weather, at 1 p.m. with the head elf a.k.a. Lieutenant-Colonel Dennis Levesque, 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron commanding officer, leading the Griffons’ flight down to SickKids.
Before returning to the North Pole, the elves read stories to patients during storytime in the SickKids Reading Room.
Photos taken by Robert Teteruck
Stephanie Belanger will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take part in history on Thursday. The social worker from The Hospital for Sick Children is one of 12,000 Canadians carrying the Olympic Flame across the country for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay.
As torchbearer, Stephanie represents more than 100,000 patients treated at the Hospital each year and more than 7,000 staff dedicated to improving the lives of children here in Canada and around the world.
Stephanie left her native city of Montreal to accept a position at SickKids two years ago. She works in the Crisis & Psychosis Program at the Hospital because, like her team, she strongly believes all children deserve a happy childhood free from oppression, blame, shame, stigma and discrimination.
This year, RBC is a Premier National Partner of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. It is also a longtime supporter of SickKids and in 2007, committed $2 million to further much-needed training, research and outreach for paediatric mental health. When RBC members approached the Department of Psychiatry to elect a torchbearer, Stephanie and her colleagues couldn’t have been more thrilled. They saw this as the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their support for children with mental illness and their families.
On Thursday Stephanie will carry the torch to encourage all young people to strive higher, faster, stronger – no matter the obstacles they face.
Stephanie was interviewed by CTV this week to talk about her leg of the Olympic Torch Relay. Check out the special two-hour broadcast live on CTV tomorrow, December 17, between 5-7 p.m.