Cameron Jaquith is back for the third year in a row doing what she does best, raising money for sick kids at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. The energetic 9-year-old was diagnosed with Strabismus, an eye condition known as Crossed Eyes a number of years ago, requiring surgery. She’s been followed by Dr. Ayesha Khan at the Children’s ever since and her condition has gradually improved. The experience left her with the resolve to do something to help children less fortunate than herself. “I had an operation on my eye. It helped me. I wanted to help other people – to help the hospital,” she says. “There are much worse things than a weak eye or a crooked eye. There are children who come to the hospital and never leave.”
Over the past two years, the grade 3 student at Edgewater Elementary School in Pincourt has raised more than $7500 through her annual spring raffle at the Edgewater Spring Shop Fest. The first year she raised $3015, and the second $4,520 by selling raffle tickets to her family and friends who can also donate prizes.The annual event helps raise money for the school as vendors must buy a table while allowing participants to use the occasion to fund-raise for another cause. Some of the prizes truly dazzle. In the past people have donated diamond earrings and diamond pendants, so Cameron’s raffle generates a fair bit of excitement.
This year for the first time Cameron has her own foundation: CAMERON COLLECTING FOR KIDS at cameronsfoundation.com. Mom Chanel Nolan says it is easier to fund-raise this way. In the past, Cameron relied mostly on word of mouth and her mother’s Facebook page to get the message out but this approach only goes so far. Social media is still the best driver Nolan says. So many people were asking her, “Where’s the website?” Nolan has been cheering her daughter on for the past two years so she thought, “Why not create a website?” Well, she did and it has been up for a few months now. “It’s not perfection. I’m not computer-savvy. I concocted something,” she says, laughing. That ‘something’ is actually quite presentable, the concept simple: “It’s $2 per ticket – tell 2 friends – and there is PayPal,” Nolan says.
Last fall Cameron was featured on Global News Morning Montreal for paying it forward. Global’s Laura Casella praised the little girl with a big heart for her ongoing efforts to help sick children calling her an “everyday hero”. Guy Carbonneau, the former captain of the Montreal Canadiens was on hand to present Cameron with a $1000 cheque on behalf of Scotiabank. Each year the bank selects one child per province to recognize them for community service. He also gave Cameron and her family game tickets at the Bell Centre. Carbonneau, who lead Les Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup in 1992-93 urged Cameron to cheer on the home team. Later she confessed to being more interested in following the action of the team’s mascot. “I was excited when they scored, but they didn’t win (against the Toronto Maple Leafs). I was more interested in stalking Youppi.”
Cameron is a member of the Young Ambassadors Club, a group of 200 children between 1-18 years of age at the Children’s who raise money to help other sick children. One out of three has a chronic condition or has been hospitalized. Their average age is about 8. “These young champions have chosen to give up birthday presents or organize fundraisers in their communities to help make our hospital an even better place for sick kids to get well,” says Angelika Maselli, Tribute Program Coordinator for the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. “We are grateful for their contributions and very proud to have these exceptional young people representing the Children’s in their schools and neighborhoods,” she says. Once they are ready to deliver their cheques they are invited to a cheque presentation at the hospital. A photo with a prop cheque is then posted on the club’s website and the children and their families are encouraged to share it on Facebook.The Children’s Foundation recognizes the Young Ambassadors by hosting a fun event for the kids in the spring. “The event includes fun activities like a magic show, photo booth, arts and crafts, and of course loot bags,” Maselli says. The Young Ambassadors receive a booklet explaining how their donations were used to help patients and lists all the names of active members.They also receive a club badge and are encouraged to wear it on their school bags so that their friends can ask about the program.
This year Cameron is particularly excited about her raffle and wants to thank all the individuals and companies that have contributed over the last few years to making it so successful. “Just buy tickets and come to the event,” she says. All proceeds from the April 7th raffle will go to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation for home and school activities for sick children. There is a record number of 31 prizes this year and Cameron is halfway towards her goal of beating last year’s total. “My raffle tickets are $2 each but you can buy as many as you like! You can also make a donation of any amount you would like. It’s always appreciated by the Children at the Hospital,” Cameron says. “We are always on the lookout for prize donations for the raffle too.”