Jessica was only 10 days old when she underwent heart surgery at McMaster Children’s Hospital. A decade later, doctors intervened to save her life a second time due to a stricture (narrowing) in her esophagus, which was preventing her from swallowing. She undergoes procedures to dilate the stricture on an ongoing basis.
Jessica has supported McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation as a patient ambassador and spokesperson for a variety of fundraising campaigns and events. She also operates a blog dedicated to helping children and youth face adversity. In recognition of her support, Jessica was named the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy at the 2016 Association of Fundraising Professionals (APF) Golden Horseshoe National Philanthropy Awards Luncheon.
Below are some highlights of the speech Jessica delivered during the luncheon:
Thank you all so much for this award, and for making philanthropy such a huge part of your hearts.
Philanthropy is defined as the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. Synonyms include generosity, humanitarianism and benevolence.
But what does philanthropy mean to you? Philanthropy means something different to us all, I think. For me it isn’t one single thing. It is not just a word. Philanthropy is a passion; it’s something we dedicate our time and hearts to. In my case, I have dedicated my heart and my time to McMaster Children’s Hospital.
It started in 2013, when I did my first event with them. I gave a speech to donors and sponsors regarding the opening of their brand new angiography suite. Since then I have had countless opportunities to represent the hospital and help raise both funds and awareness for their foundation. All of the events and fundraisers thus far have given me more than appreciation and respect. This time has allowed me to break out of my shell and it has saved my life in more ways than one.