Two marathons – one on the radio and another involving gaming – raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan (CHFS) last week.

The 13th Annual Children’s Hospital Radiothon ran from November 4 to 5, 2015 in Regina, raising a remarkable $517,477.30.

A large cheque was presented to the Children's Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan (CHFS) at the end of the Radiothon in Regina.  From left: Lisa Sands of CHFS, Kevin Punshon of CIBC Wood Gundy, Jason Huschi of Harvard Broadcasting, Anna Burton of CHFS.Front: is Cohyn Wells, CHFS 2015-2016 Champion Child.

A large cheque was presented to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan (CHFS) at the end of the Radiothon in Regina.  From left: Lisa Sands of CHFS, Kevin Punshon of CIBC Wood Gundy, Jason Huschi of Harvard Broadcasting, Anna Burton of CHFS.Front: is Cohyn Wells, CHFS 2015-2016 Champion Child.

The two-day, 23-hour event was broadcast live on 620 CKRM, MY92.1 and 104.9 The Wolf from the lobby of Hill Tower II.

Since it began, the Children’s Hospital Radiothon in Regina has raised nearly $3.9 million for both urgent pediatric equipment needs and the province’s new children’s and maternal hospital, presently under construction in Saskatoon.

“With the added commitment of raising another $25 million for our new provincial children’s hospital, we need Saskatchewan’s help now more than ever,” said Brynn Boback-Lane, President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan at the close of the Radiothon. “The last two days have shown the incredible generosity of the people of southern Saskatchewan to unite the province in support of the children and families who need them.”

This year’s event saw an amazing gift by Duane and Bev Smith of Swift Current, who matched donations up to $100,000. CIBC Wood Gundy also returned as presenting sponsor of the radio marathon.

“We are proud to once again be the presenting sponsor of this year’s Radiothon,” says David Sinclair of CIBC Wood Gundy. “We appreciate the opportunity and thank both Harvard Broadcasting and the people of Saskatchewan for supporting this wonderful cause.”

The Foundation extended thanks to matching donors Duane and Bev Smith, sponsors CIBC Wood Gundy, K + S Potash, CP, Kelturn Drywall, Potash Corp, Viterra, SaskTel, Capital Auto, TCU Financial Group, MySask411, SaskMilk and Harvard Broadcasting media partners: 620 CKRM, MY92.1 and 104.9 The Wolf. Special thanks were also extended to the many volunteers, donors and families from across Saskatchewan for their ongoing support as construction moves forward on the new Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan.

The second marathon that took place from November 6 to 7 was Extra Life, a 24-hour gaming marathon supporting children’s hospitals across North America, including the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan.

Melissa Klassen

Melissa Klassen was one of the people taking part in this year’s Extra Life gaming marathon.

Although the final total for this year’s event hasn’t yet been tallied, last year a total of $24,000 was raised for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan.

One of the people taking part in this year’s Extra Life gaming marathon was Melissa Klassen, who was inspired to get involved because of her own experience. Few people understand the need for a children’s hospital in Saskatchewan better than Melissa, who has an extremely rare form of muscular dystrophy. The 26-year-old from Rapid View is, in fact, the only person in Saskatchewan with Myotubular Myopath. The condition affects 50 per cent of her skeletal muscles and causes severely weakened muscle tone. As a result, Melissa has a serious case of scoliosis and has been in a power wheelchair since she was four years old.

Melissa’s brother, Jon, introduced her to Extra Life in 2012. Since its inception in 2008, Extra Life has raised more than $14 million for local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Melissa and Jon have raised $1,000 for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan, not including this year’s totals.

“Video games have been an extremely positive experience for me,” explained Melissa, who participated in Extra Life this weekend for the third year in a row. “Aside from the social aspect, they’ve helped me hone my reaction times and strengthen my hands.”

The youngest of five children, Melissa and her parents have made countless six-hour round trips to Saskatoon for care. As an adult, her visits to hospital are less frequent, but Melissa says her condition and rural location can be isolating.

“Gaming has been and continues to be very important to me. I even consider it lifesaving,” said Melissa, a self-proclaimed PlayStation Fan Girl. “It allows me to escape my sometimes scary and sometimes boring life. Since being in a wheelchair full time makes going to hang out with friends difficult, and living rural makes having friends come over difficult, gaming online has opened my world exponentially. I have friends who I game with all over the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and all the way to South Africa.”