Christina and Ann

For sisters Christina Koli and Ann Legere, family and art are two of life’s treasures, and with their fashion accessory company Art Of Accessory (AOA), they have been able to combine the two.

“Starting an art-based business together is something we have always wanted to do, and the pandemic gave us the opportunity to do it,” said Ann.

Christina lives in Burlington with her husband, son and their golden retriever. When the pandemic began last year, she found herself off work and homeschooling her son.

It was her love for painting and her need for creating that led to the development of small ‘tiny gems’ paintings, which were more manageable to fit into her busy days. She painted flowers inspired by her daily walks and then heart paintings while thinking of all the frontline workers.

“I wanted to donate a painting to be printed and given as thank you cards to all the essential workers at JBH,” Christina says.

‘Magical Heart’ was the first of a series of paintings. ‘Courageous Heart’ and ‘Covid Blues’ paintings were later used on cards for the hospital.

Later in the year, Christina and Ann, who lives in Toronto with her husband, daughter and two sons, (when they are not away at school), launched Art of Accessory.

“It’s all very exciting and new, with so much to learn.” says Ann. “Christina and I have a very close relationship, and AOA gives us a chance to connect several times a day, which has been especially nice through this pandemic.”

The ‘Courageous Heart’ painting, inspired by the dedication of the frontline workers during COVID-19, was used in the design of silk scarves that were available for purchase, with proceeds going to support the hospital’s COVID-19 response. For the sisters, it was a small token of appreciation to the frontline staff.

“Our fundraiser grew out of the relationship developed from reaching out with the idea for the ‘thank you’ cards, and we thank JBH for allowing us to be actively involved with the hospital during these difficult times,” says Christina.

You can see their full line of accessories available at https://www.artofaccessory.com/.

Rose Ryan

“When I was 28, something happened to me that not only scared me but changed my life,” says Rose Ryan.  “I was diagnosed with cancer.”

Rose was experiencing some symptoms and had gone to Joseph Brant Hospital where she was referred to Dr. Gee. They ran some tests and the results showed that Rose had a tumor in her thymus.  Shortly after, Rose underwent more tests and surgery was scheduled.

“The staff at the hospital were incredible, efficient and mapped out the next steps in my treatment,” says Rose.
Soon after her diagnosis, she received her first chemotherapy treatment as an inpatient, which she continued to receive as an outpatient every three weeks for six months.

“I remember those hospital visits vividly.  I cannot say enough about the staff at the hospital, and I will never forget the people who changed my life.  I still remember every nurse, social worker, hospital staff, and doctor who helped me during this difficult time,” says Rose.

Rose discusses how the staff went above and beyond to ensure that she was cared for and every Hospital visit made her feel like she was at home.  “Not only did I receive such exceptional care, but I also witnessed the staff interact with other patients and saw how they truly cared for all of us,” says Rose.

Today, Rose cherishes every moment with her family.  “As I watch my children grow and think about their endless possibilities, I thank Joseph Brant Hospital for giving me care and the courage to persevere,” says Rose.

After receiving her diagnosis, Rose started about thinking about her husband and the importance of having her affairs in order.  “I wanted to make sure our family was supported.  I thought about what my children may face in their future, and I wanted to ensure that I could help them,” says Rose.

Not only did Rose think about her immediate family, but she also thought about the families in her community.

“At one point or another, we will all know someone who needs to use the services of the hospital.  And that was why I decided to give my support to a hospital that took care of me during a trying time through a gift in my will,” says Rose.

Legacy gifts ensure that Joseph Brant Hospital continues to be there for the community in the moments that matter by providing quality care.  Rose explains, “Legacy gifts make a profound impact on the future of our healthcare.  The future of Joseph Brant Hospital is filled with so many possibilities, and I believe it’s important that we support one another so our community can continue to thrive.”

For Rose, her legacy will be that she was able to give a gift to Joseph Brant Hospital that will allow them to continue to provide exceptional care in a well-equipped facility.

“No matter the amount, your gift is impacting healthcare close to home and is benefiting the families in your community, and for the future generations,” says Rose.

Linda Draddy

It was a cold day in February 1979 when Linda Draddy, age 31, moved to Burlington, Ontario with her husband and two young daughters. It was a six-hour journey from New Liskeard, in northeastern Ontario, where access to urgent medical care was limited.

Linda had just been diagnosed with auto-immune hepatitis, a rare liver disorder that, left untreated, could be fatal. Fatigue, aching joints, nausea and abdominal pain are common symptoms that Linda experienced. However, the late 70s was an era long before you could look up health information online.

“We had no computers, and there wasn’t a lot of information available,” recalls Linda. “I was in a new city, we knew no one, and I was doing my best to take care of my daughters while very ill.”

The difficult early stages of Linda’s disorder led her to seek out and receive treatment – the first step in a long road to recovery – from a gastrointestinal specialist at Joseph Brant Hospital.

“I was in very bad shape and was admitted to Jo Brant for two weeks. My blood levels were very low and I received 21 shots of vitamin K and 16 bags of plasma, before my first biopsy could be performed. After that, I did whatever the doctor told me to do and what to watch out for with my condition.”

In the following years, Linda returned to JBH many times for intravenous treatment whenever she became sick and she also visited specialists at surrounding hospitals to receive care, until finally the time came when she was recommended for a liver transplant.

It took 18 long months on a wait list until that day in early August 2003 – one day after the great blackout that hit the northeastern US and Ontario – when Linda got the call that would change her life. A compatible liver match was found and she was asked to prepare for the journey to London, Ontario for the transplant surgery.

After arriving and undergoing all of the preparatory blood work and X-Rays, Linda’s hopes were nearly dashed when cancer cells were detected on the donated liver; however, two weeks after that devastating news, another new organ was found and, at the end of August, Linda returned to London and received her liver transplant.

Just as Linda and her family made the long journey to start a new life in Burlington, where she resides today, her journey to recovery from her illness was long and arduous. But, thanks to many health providers along the way; the life-sustaining care she received at JBH in the years before her transplant; and the one individual who made that crucial decision to be an organ donor, Linda has enjoyed many more fulfilling years of life.

She was able to live and see her young daughters grow up and walk down the aisle. She was also able to witness the joy of seeing her five grandchildren born at JBH, bringing Linda’s experience at JBH full circle.

“I could not have received better treatment than I did at Jo Brant,” says Linda. “If it wasn’t for the care I received there in those early days, I would not be here today.”

Linda’s gratitude has extended towards her raising funds for the hospital over the years through Mother’s Day teas at her church. She is also a passionate advocate for organ donation awareness, giving many speeches at events since receiving her transplant.

“I urge everyone to have that ‘kitchen table’ talk with their family – make it known what your wishes are should something happen, before it is too late. Please make sure you sign up to be a donor. Go online to beadonor.ca and register your consent,” says Linda.

“It only takes two minutes to register to save a life. Just like mine.”

Doris and Charles Sinclair

In 2019, Doris Sinclair and her husband Charles were spending winter at their Florida home when she started to experience difficulty walking and found herself short of breath. After a visit to the doctor, she was diagnosed with heart failure.

Immediately, the Sinclairs flew back to Burlington where Doris was admitted to Joseph Brant Hospital.  She underwent a number of tests, and was prescribed medication to assist with the issues.

In May, Doris found herself struggling to walk again.  She went back to the hospital, was admitted for several days and ended up getting a pacemaker installed. She was cared for by doctors and nurses in the Joseph Brant Hospital Heart Function Clinic, in particular, Karen Antoni. Both Doris and Charles were impressed with the level of care she received.

“I have only good words for Joseph Brant Hospital,” says Doris.  “All the doctors and nurses were so good and attentive to me. Karen was so kind, she went above and beyond to ensure that I was taken care of.”

Doris and Charles donated $25,000 to the Cardiology Department at Joseph Brant Hospital in gratitude for the excellent experience she had there. “My husband and I talked to each other about the great care I had received. We wanted to make a donation to the hospital and show our appreciation,” says Doris. “Everyone was so thoughtful, caring and compassionate to me. I’ll never forget that.”

Rory and Aileen

When seven-year-old Aileen found herself feeling uncertain during the COVID-19 pandemic and missing her friends, she found a way to take her mind off things.

“She would quietly go to her room and begin making bracelets,” says Lisa, Aileen’s mother.  “She made so many that she wanted to do something with them and came up with the idea to sell them and donate the money to Joseph Brant Hospital to help the hospital fight against COVID-19.”

Soon after, Aileen’s nine-year-old brother Rory followed suit.  When he realized his birthday was coming up, he decided to ask for donations instead of gifts. “My children both wanted to help the hospital because they believe it will help everyone get closer to their friends and family,” says Lisa.

In total, Aileen and Rory raised an incredible $508 in donations for Joseph Brant Hospital’s COVID-19 response.

Lisa shared how much she admires her children, who, like many, are trying to understand COVID-19.

“Following new standards during the COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly a strange and confusing time.  But for children, it is a new ground to walk on,” says Lisa. “Children are trying to find a place in this changing environment.”

Beverley Brandreth-Carbin

For Beverley Brandreth-Carbin, Joseph Brant Hospital will always hold a special place in her heart.

She served as the ward clerk in the emergency department for almost two decades and it was at JBH where she met her husband, Dr. Robert Carbin who she married in 1998.

As a lifelong Burlington resident, she recognizes the importance of supporting our community hospital.

“We’re the number one city in Canada,” she says. “And no one has a hospital as beautiful.”

Beverley has included JBH in her estate plans as a legacy gift from her and her children.

“Down the road, we’ll all need the hospital, and I’m proud that the Brandreth family will continue to support our community hospital.”

Thane Munn

When Thane Munn was diagnosed with cancer, his approach was pragmatic and no-nonsense. He strived to maintain normalcy in his life, and the lives of his family.

“He did not want the cancer diagnosis to define him. He wanted to beat it and move on,” explained his wife Kathryn.

Through his treatment, Thane came to appreciate the quality of care provided by the staff at the Joseph Brant  Hospital Cancer Clinic.

“He wanted people to know about the great works that the clinic did, and continues to do,” said Kathryn. “He was always praising the clinic team – staff and volunteers alike – for their professionalism, compassion, sincerity, and humanness. They became akin to family members.”

Thane firmly believed in giving back to the community. He volunteered as often as he could. He was heavily involved in the Burlington Eagles Hockey Club, and joined his friends Angelo and Diane Bentivegna as an original member of the organizing committee for the Beauty and the Bistro; Be Our Guests, Save Our Breasts Event. The event went on to raise $450,000 over three years to purchase a digital mammography machine with biopsy attachment for Joseph
Brant Hospital.

Having seen first-hand the impact that a cancer diagnosis and treatment can have on an individual and their family, Thane saw the benefits of early diagnosis and quality care and the impact that this technology could have in the lives of so many people.

While undergoing bi-weekly chemotherapy treatments, Thane asked his wife Kathryn to bake cookies for the staff as a thank you for their ongoing work and support. Shortly after, when he learned that funding to provide cookies to the patients and their families was no longer available, he stepped up and provided the necessary annual financial support to ensure the patients’ cookies continued to be available, a proud tradition that Kathryn, and their children
Zachary and Jessica continue.

“For Thane, the cookies provided a perk – a little something to keep the patients occupied and provide a sense of normalcy for them in an otherwise stressful situation, which was very important to him,” said Kathryn.

Over the years, Thane became a familiar face around JBH, and a dear friend and advocate of the Foundation. Known for his “big bear” personality and dry sense of humour, he often attended and spoke at events, helping to raise money for the Foundation by sharing his patient experience and encouraging others to support their community hospital.

After a courageous battle, Thane passed away in June 2015, but his spirit and commitment continue to live on through a legacy gift to the Foundation to be directed to capital improvements to be made to the Cancer Clinic as part of the Redevelopment and Expansion project.

Thane explained his decision to support the new Hospital project to Kathryn very clearly.

“I’m someone who planned and built schools for more than twenty years, Thane explained. I’m a capital works guy”, she said.

For Thane, Kathryn, Zachary and Jessica, continued support of Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation is about understanding and improving the patient experience, and the experience for their family.

“If our support can in some way – however small – make the next patient’s experience less frightening, less stressful and more comforting, educational, and efficient – then it is worth it,” said Kathryn.

Ralph and Susan Sgro

Each McHappy Day, Ralph and Susan Sgro donate the proceeds raised in their Burlington and Waterdown McDonald’s locations to Joseph Brant Hospital’s Maternal & Child Program.

“One of the core values of McDonald’s is giving back to the Community where you work and live,” said Susan.

Since 1988, the Sgro’s have actively and generously supported Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation. In that time, the Hospital’s Special Care Nursery, Maternal and Child Family Sitting Room, Ambulatory Care program, Nina’s Place, the Critical Needs Fund and the Tomorrow is Here Capital Campaign have all benefited from their philanthropy.

The Sgro’s also continue their leadership support through the Our New Era Campaign, with Ralph taking a leadership role as Vice Chair of its Campaign Cabinet.

“At one time or another, we’re all going to use the Hospital, so it’s wonderful to be part of the redevelopment,” said Susan.

Helping to shape and build our Community is linked to quality health care for the Sgro’s.

“There’s a lot of pleasure in seeing the results of contributing to the Community,” said Ralph. “I think letting individuals know the importance of good health care is probably the most important thing we can do for our Community.”

Betty Anne Millar

Joseph Brant Hospital has been a part of Betty Anne Millar’s life for over 40 years. Betty Anne and her husband Murray settled in Burlington 48 years ago. As a resident of the ever growing Burlington community, Betty Anne knows how important it is to have a world class hospital to serve our community’s needs.

Betty Anne has also served volunteer terms on both the Hospital Board of Governors and the Foundation Board of Directors, including having played an instrumental role in raising the initial capital to establish the Foundation through a community fundraiser.

Like many in our community, Betty Anne also has a more personal connection to Joseph Brant Hospital. It was September 2012, as Betty Anne was sitting in the Family Room of the ICU, reality hit her with the recognition that her life was about to change forever. Her husband, Murray, was in the Intensive Care Unit and passed away three days later. For Betty Anne, supporting the Our New Era Campaign is a way to honour her husband.

“After donating The Quiet Room in the ICU in memory of Murray, I decided to donate The Family Room as well,” said Betty Anne. “This was a unique opportunity to donate in each of our names and have two adjoining rooms that will provide comfort to friends and families when their loved ones are ill.”

After Murray’s passing, Betty Anne began to think about how she could continue to support Joseph Brant Hospital after she is no longer here. It was at this time that she decided to leave a more meaningful gift in her will to benefit the Hospital. Betty Anne wanted to ensure that future generations will continue to receive the very best care, while remaining close to home.

“I have committed a Transformational Gift in my estate plans to our new Hospital,” she said. “I encourage others to consider a gift to the Our New Era Campaign. It is an investment in our Community for future generations. There is truly no other place a legacy gift will have such an impact on our entire city.”

Today, Betty Anne continues to volunteer her time to the Hospital. For the past six years, she has been coming to the Hospital for weekly pastoral care visits with patients and their families.

“I hear from so many patients who are filled with gratitude for the care they are receiving at Joseph Brant. Time and time again, I hear from these families that the staff at Joseph Brant Hospital are some of the most caring and respectful people. It is these individuals that help make the Hospital such a special place.”

For more information about making a legacy gift, please click here.

An Evening of Song

For Dr. Brendan Chiu, supporting the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation was a way to give back to the community which has supported him for so long. He first joined Joseph Brant Hospital in 1973, and has seen first-hand the changes in the community.

“Burlington is expanding, and now the hospital is expanding, too,” he said. “I’m excited to see we are getting a new hospital.”

For Dr. Chiu and his wife Katherine, their son Stephen’s passion for singing was their inspiration for an event in support of the Foundation. The Chiu’s hosted An Evening of Song at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre in October 2014.

The event featured Stephen performing songs from Les Misérables to Michael Bublé.

“I was so happy to get a chance to see him perform in tha setting,” said Dr. Chiu. “He really showed he’s a performer.”

The evening saw over 440 people come out, raising more than $20,000 for the Foundation. And while it was a lot of effort personally for Dr. Chiu, he was able to fulfill his lifelong dream of seeing his son perform.

Dr. Chiu proudly displays a story about the event, and photos of his son on stage in his medical office on Guelph Line, but it was the feedback from those who attended which make him the most proud.

“Months later, I was approached in the parking lot of the bank, and someone told me they attended the event and wanted to say thank you, and tell me how impressed they were,” he said. “It made my day to hear that.”

For Dr. Chiu, supporting Joseph Brant Hospital was an easy decision, and a family affair and he encourages others to think about how they can support our local Hospital.

“We were quite happy to give a hand and help out to some degree,” he said. “It all starts with the thought ‘Maybe I can do something – it doesn’t have to be a big thing.”

For videos from An Evening of Song, visit: https://www.youtube.com/user/lovetosingforfun/videos