Story courtesy Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan

It was quite a rush for sick and injured kids in pediatrics when some special guests dropped by the Acute Care Pediatrics Ward in Saskatoon for a visit on March 21.

Saskatchewan Rush Lacrosse team forwards Mark Matthews and Robert Church visited pediatrics as part of the kick-off for the week-long jersey auction in support of the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan (CHFS). The online auction began March 21 on the Saskatchewan Rush’s Facebook page.

Rush forwards Mark Matthews and Robert Church visited pediatrics as part of the kick-off for the week-long jersey auction in support of the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan (CHFS).

Saskatchewan Rush Lacrosse team forwards Mark Matthews and Robert Church visited pediatrics as part of the kick-off for the week-long jersey auction in support of the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan (CHFS).

Wearing the new jerseys, Church and Matthews played an impromptu game of lacrosse in the ward’s playroom, posed for photos, visited with children, families, and staff, and went room to room to visit children not well enough to leave their beds. Kids in the ward received Saskatchewan Rush lacrosse sticks and balls, along with iTunes gift cards, playdoh, and colouring books courtesy of TD Bank Group. Joined by Saskatchewan Rush mascot Bruiser, this was the first visit by both players to the pediatrics department.

Nine-year-old Braden Thompson of Carnduff led the players through a tour of the playroom. Living with cystic fibrosis, the Grade 4 student and his family are regular visitors to the ward. Admitted a week before, Braden hoped to be discharged in time for the Rush game on March 26.

“This visit was probably the highlight of his whole time here,” says mom Kelly. “He’s been struggling to get out of his room and the prospect of this visit really perked him up and gave him a goal to reach. It’s so important for the mental health of these kids in hospital to have something to look forward to each and every day.”

CHFS Champion Child Cohyn Wells, 9, signed a special one-day player contract to become a member of the Rush for the team’s tilt against the Toronto Rock March 26.

As part of his contract with the professional lacrosse team, the Moose Jaw boy got his own jersey, player’s stall in the dressing room, and gear. Cohyn also had the opportunity to read the Rush starting line-up to players before the game started, warm up with the team, and sit with the players on the team bench for the second quarter of the game. He was introduced as the TD Kid Captain of the Game and, along with other child ambassadors, ran out with the players for the start of the game. It was all part of CHFS night at the game.

“It was awesome,” said Cohyn, who spoke at a media conference that night at SaskTel Centre.

CHFS Champion Child Cohyn Wells, 9, signed a special one-day player contract to become a member of the Rush for the team’s tilt against the Toronto Rock March 26.

CHFS Champion Child Cohyn Wells, 9, signed a special one-day player contract to become a member of the Rush for the team’s tilt against the Toronto Rock March 26.

In September, Cohyn was selected as the Saskatchewan representative for the Children’s Miracle Network’s Champion Program presented by Walmart. As 2015/16 Champion, Cohyn acts as the ambassador for the CHFS at events across North America.

Cohyn was born with spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and Chiari II malformation, which is a structural defect in the part of the brain that controls balance. Cohyn has also since developed syringomyelia, a rare, progressive disease that affects his spinal cord. Each of his surgeries has been accompanied by lengthy hospital stays and recovery periods. Cohyn’s first surgery took place when he was less than a day old.

The March 26 game was the culmination of this week of fundraising by the province’s newest sports team and TD Bank Group, who held an online jersey auction featuring the custom jerseys supporting CHFS. The limited edition jerseys were worn during the game and autographed by each player.

In addition to the online auction, Limited Edition Chris “Captain” Corbeil Rush T-shirts were sold at the game by TD volunteer staff members. Donation bins were also set up at SaskTel Centre along with a Saskatchewan Rush auction table on the main concourse level, featuring autographed and game-worn equipment.

Proceeds from the fundraising efforts – an amazing $22,000 – were presented to CHFS at the April 2 Saskatchewan Rush game at SaskTel Centre.

For more information on the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan, visit saskchildrenshospital.ca, or check them out on Facebook or Twitter.

For more information on how to donate to the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan, visit the Foundation’s website at childrenshospitalsask.ca.