A medical mystery. A child struggling to thrive. Wanting the best for your kids but not knowing where to turn. For many parents with a child facing an unknown or rare diagnosis, a Children’s Miracle Network Member Hospital is where they finally find hope.
Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President for RE/MAX Western Canada, can speak first-hand to the powerful difference parents find at a Children’s Miracle Network Member Hospital. In 2015, his nephew’s newborn twins were diagnosed with a terminal chromosome disorder that affects just 1 in 60,000 infants.
“The compassion my family found at British Columbia Children’s Hospital and the staff’s ability to provide very specialized care just wasn’t available at a general hospital,” Ash says.
Ash, a Distinguished Service Award recipient and 35-year veteran of the RE/MAX network, has been an advocate for Children’s Miracle Network for decades. For the past 13 years, RE/MAX of Western Canada has been one of the top fundraising regions for Children’s Miracle Network – donating $1.9 million in 2018 alone.
Ash shares his personal story and why he feels it’s important businesses are good community citizens.
RE/MAX EVP Elton Ash will be a special guest during the annual #ChildrensHospitalsWeek Live-athon, starting at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 20. You can watch – and donate – via the
CMN Hospitals Facebook page.
Soon after my nephew and his wife welcomed twin girls to their family, it became clear the newborns weren’t thriving. It took several rounds of testing before University Hospital in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, determined both babies had a rare disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 1, a chromosome disorder where the body cannot synthesize proteins and babies are born at their greatest strength. The unfortunate prognosis was that my great nieces’ bodies would continue to weaken, and they would likely pass away within 24 months.
At four months old, the twins were enrolled in a drug trial at British Columbia Children’s Hospital, a CMN Member Hospital. This is the greatest strength of children’s hospitals – engaging in research and then taking what they learn to improve the lives of patients.
During treatment, my nephew’s family stayed with my wife Jayne and me to be closer to the hospital.
Did the care the twins received at BC Children’s differ from other hospitals?
The hospital was unbelievable. BC Children’s specializes in working with families facing extremely difficult diagnoses. The hospital staff understood the disease entirely and were able to sit down with my nephew and his wife and have an open dialogue about what was happening and how the disease would likely progress.
Again, that’s a benefit children’s hospitals bring. They have a better understanding of these diseases and they’re better equipped from a psychological point of view to help parents and children deal with their emotions. For example, they go to great lengths to make sure the consulting rooms are warm and inviting. It makes a big difference when you’re a having difficult conversation around a coffee table and the room overlooks a healing garden.
Why is it important to fundraise for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals?
Fundraising is critical so that hospitals can continue to engage in research that improves and saves lives. My great nieces have since passed, but the very technical research they were part of is still ongoing.
In Canada, the government often doesn’t pay for this type of research or specialized care. Universal health care pays only for the bed and doctor. It doesn’t go toward healing gardens, more square footage to have wider hallways and larger rooms, artwork that cheers up younger patients or anything else that helps make the hospitals a warmer environment for families and patients.
What value do you think philanthropy adds to a RE/MAX agent’s business?
Study after study shows that consumers prefer to work with companies and businesses that are good community citizens. But more importantly, the No. 1 reason to support CMN Hospitals is that I think we need to work together to ensure children receive the quality of care they need and deserve.
If people really think about it, almost everyone has a personal experience with a children’s hospital, or friends or relatives who do. RE/MAX Affiliates deal in people’s personal lives every day by helping them find the home they raise their children in. Supporting CMN Hospitals is a way we can continue to serve those clients. It’s a natural fit.