Calgary Olympic club makes wish come true for kids
A Rotary club chartered during the last Winter Olympics in Canada has teamed up with a charity to make wishes come true for six children with life-threatening illnesses.
As the Olympic Games returned to the country this month, The Rotary Club of Calgary Olympic, Alberta, worked with the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada to provide accommodations for the children, ages 4-14, so they could attend.
"Our club wanted to do something special since the Olympics are back in Canada," says Tamara McCarron, club member and project chair. "We are thrilled to make a difference in these children's lives. It's a dream come true for them and for me."
This year's games are being held in Vancouver, British Columbia. With most of the area's hotels booked, McCarron found Home for the Games, a website that matches visitors with Vancouver hosts for short-term homestays. The club spent US$30,000 for lodging for the six families. Home for the Games funnels 50 percent of the housing fees to charities that help the homeless in Vancouver.
"I was lucky enough to come across an ad in The Rotarian magazine for Home for the Games. It's a win, win, win for our club, the Children's Wish Foundation, and local charities of Vancouver," says McCarron, who joined the club last year. "It's a huge effort, but having the resources of Rotary made things a lot smoother."
The six families, who live in different parts of Canada, attended several events at the games from 12 to 28 February, including the highly anticipated men's gold medal hockey game.
The Children's Wish Foundation worked with Olympic officials to allow one of the girls to pick up gifts thrown into the rink by spectators during a figure skating medal round.
"We're creating a legacy for these children and their families," says Tara Johnson, the club's community service chair. "This project is very symbolic of what Rotary does for people who live at a disadvantage."
"The assistance and support of Rotarians from across Canada, specifically those from the Rotary Club of Calgary Olympic, have made it possible to send the children to share an unforgettable Olympic experience with their families," says Lyanne Goulin, director of the foundation.
RVM: The Rotarian Video Magazine will be including the children's Olympic experience in a future issue. Also look for footage in a video about the 100-year history of Rotary in Canada, to be shown at the 2010 RI Convention in Montréal, Québec.
Read about Rotarian Olympians in the August 2008 The Rotarian