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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spotlight: Children's Wish and the Bayside Broncos

Kids are amazing.  I don't just say that because I'm a mom, I say that because I'm surprised all the time by the strength and abilities of kids to do amazing things.  Here in Saint John, New Brunswick (Canada), there is an amazing school full of awesome kids who are doing an incredible thing for their community.  Bayside Middle School has about 600 students and the whole school gets involved in their annual "Walk for Kaitlyn" in support of the Children's Wish Foundation.

Bayside's fundraising efforts began after a child at their school, grade 8 student Kaitlyn Doucette, passed away after a battle with cancer in 2002.  As the school dealt with the loss of Kaitlyn, they decided they wanted to have something positive come out of it, and it was decided that they would partner with the Children's Wish Foundation.  Since they began their fundraising campaign in 2002, they've had 2 more students pass away after battles with terminal illnesses.  This school has been through a lot, and each year they remember their former classmates.

This small school raises more money for the Children's Wish Foundation than any other school in Canada!  What an accomplishment!  And they do it all without corporate sponsorship.  I spoke with one of the teachers at Bayside, Tiffany Sabin, about how they've been able to run such successful campaigns.  "Besides being a good team building activity, it helps the kids look beyond themselves and see the struggles that other children go through." As for their hopes for this year, they want to make the campaign bigger and better than ever before. "The fundraising has grown every year. The first year raised around $10,000 while the 12th raised over $31,000." Ms. Sabin shared. "The kids get really excited to see the total and know that they contributed. They get to be a part of something huge, something they couldn't have done on their own. Kids helping kids."

One of the Bronco's biggest supporters is Gerry Beresford, Director of the New Brunswick Chapter of the Children's Wish Foundation, spoke to me about the impact of the "Bayside Broncos" and their fundraising.  "I could talk forever about the Bayside Broncos, what an amazing school".  The Children's Wish Foundation grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.  "The looks on the faces of the children who receive their wish, and their families, are amazing.  These experiences mean so much to them."  This year, the Children's Wish Foundation celebrates 30 years of granting wishes, and here in New Brunswick, they're preparing to grant 50 wishes.  "The average cost of a wish is $10,000, and we've been able to raise the money for these wishes through the generosity of New Brunswickers, that's why supporting the fundraising efforts of the Bayside Broncos is so important".

Each year, as part of the campaign, the campaign is topped off with a "Walk for Wishes".  This year's walk will take place in mid-October, and to help this year's campaign, the Broncos have extended an official invitation to Rick Mercer of "The Mercer Report" on CBC to come join them at their walk.  To help entice Mr. Mercer to come to their walk, they've launched a social media campaign called #BringRickToBayside.  This campaign has started primarily through their Twitter account, www.twitter.com/Bayside_Broncos, and the corresponding hashtag, but will be expanding to include other social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.  "These kids deserve to be recognized for their exceptional dedication to the cause." Says Mr. Beresford.  "What better way to recognize them than to have Rick Mercer come visit them!"  Not only would this be great recognition for the kids, but Ms. Sabin also added “Rick would love visiting Bayside!  We always have fun activities to celebrate the kids reaching their goal, and which is a perfect fit for The Mercer Report.

The Broncos need your help in this year's campaign!  Join in the social media campaign to #BringRickToBayside.  Here are some ways you can help:

1) Follow the Bayside Broncos on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Bayside_Broncos. This is the best way to stay up to date on their efforts. 
2) Retweet the Bayside Broncos tweets to help spread the word, respond to our tweets to show your support, or send your own tweet to @rickmercer and make sure you include our hashtag - #BringRickToBayside 
3) Send Rick an email, post on The Rick Mercer Report, or send a letter in the mail! Everything helps! 
4) Post on Instagram with #BringRickToBayside


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