Working for the RBC Canadian Open, I spend 51 weeks a year preparing for the ONE week we host Canada’s only PGA TOUR event. It was June 2022 and I had been away from my family for the past 4 days as we hosted our event. It had already been a hard week to start as my wife Natasha’s Nonno had passed away just before I had left.
Thursday morning was the start of the RBC Canadian Open and when I had a moment to check my phone I had 10 missed calls from my son, Calvin's, daycare. Unfortunately, with bad cell service at the golf course, when I got through to the daycare they couldn’t hear me but I could hear them say “Calvin is hurt, calling 911". After about 20 minutes of panic, I reached my Dad who rushed to the daycare and called Natasha to tell her Calvin had been hurt. When paramedics arrived, Cal was in and out of consciousness.
After turning around from her drive to Nanno's funeral, Natasha arrived to see our son being driven away in an ambulance without knowing what had happened. When she reached the local hospital she found out he had broken his femur. Due to his lack of consciousness and not knowing if there was a head injury or internal bleeding, he was airlifted right away to London Children's Hospital. By this time I was driving frantically, still not knowing what had happened or even the extent of his injuries.
When arriving in London I was told he would need surgery to re-set his leg. Obviously full of question and uncertainty, while in the waiting room, we were approached by a staff member who informed us we would have a room at Ronald McDonald House Charities Southwestern Ontario. This provided us with significant relief as both my wife and I had nothing but the clothes on our back and no idea how long we would be there. Not having to worry about a hotel or where we were going to stay was one thing off our plate.
I checked into RMHC-SWO and saw immediately the importance of the house. I had always heard about it, but never really knew exactly what it was. While I stayed there (Natasha slept beside Cal in hospital) I continued to learn more about the House and how it is run. The staff, the volunteers, and the amount of time and energy that goes into making sure the families are taken care of is incredible.
When I checked in I was full of anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. I was given a nice gift bag with some necessities to take all the simple stresses off of my plate so I could focus on my family. While at the House I would see other families getting coffee, eating lunch, watching TV, etc. and I kept thinking to myself “What's their story?”... “Why are they here?”... “How long have they been here?”...
Over the next 8 weeks, we made visits to London to deal with his recovery. We found ourselves staying a couple of nights at RMHC-SWO, and I found myself noticing the same families I saw a couple of months earlier. This is when I knew I wanted to get involved in some capacity. There was a ton of guilt that each time I stayed a night in the House, I was going to be leaving after Cal’s next appointment. This wasn’t the case for most of these parents and families.
For months I debated how I could help. I would round up my bill at McDonald’s every chance I could, but 50 cents at a time was not going to really make the difference I wanted. About 4 months ago I started my own men’s fashion website and I started to create the charity campaign SUNNY SKIES.
That moment when you check into RMHC for the first time you are full of unknown and the world feels pretty grey. This is why I introduced the SUNNY SKIES concept. Now, when families get that initial gift package, they will also receive a SUNNY SKIES hat. With that hat, the parents will receive a letter of encouragement and hope. Something small that may not solve why they are there, but hopefully provides a little bit of light in a dark time.
SUNNY SKIES represents positivity, encouragement, motivation, and forward-looking thinking. Every time they wear the hat, it will act as a reminder of what it represents and hopefully provide uplifting spirits.
2023 Update: After spending the summer in a spica cast, Cal recovered really well. After about 4 months, he was back to running around and you would never know it happened! Kids are amazing.
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