Winning hearts and minds

Stefano Grande
Healthy Living

February is heart month, and that got me thinking about “heart” expressions we use every day. The heart of the matter. Follow your heart. Wear your heart on your sleeve (I can relate to this one!).

At Children’s Hospital Foundation, we are incredibly fortunate to be supported by a community with hearts of gold, who make a difference in the lives of kids and their families. I’d like to tell you about two of these special kids today, kids who are sure to win your heart.

Brady Bobrowich is 14 years old, and despite his young age, is a veteran of long and intense surgeries and hospital stays. When he was just five months old, his parents, Corinne and Brad, noticed unusual spots on his body. He was diagnosed with type 1 neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumours to form on tissue in the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and nerves themselves. For the first few years, the only symptoms were small growths under his skin, but by age six, an inoperable tumour had grown so large that it was bending his spine. By the time he was nine, he needed surgery to implant rods to help keep his spine straighter. He’s since had three more surgeries to implant and lengthen the rods and address some of the other 100+ tumours growing in his body. 

Despite these challenges, Brady plays hockey and baseball, and is an avid fisher and hunter. He’s also a champion.

Over the last two years, Brady has represented kids who need HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital as the 2020 and 2021 Champion Child, attending more than 40 events virtually or in-person when possible, to share his story and showcase what an amazing hospital and research institute we have in Manitoba. He and his family also coordinated several of their own virtual fundraisers to raise more than $34,000 for surgical equipment to help more kids like him. Thank you, Brady!

In February, Brady is passing the baton to another remarkable champion, Keira Davlut, who will be the 2022 Champion Child for sick and injured kids in Manitoba.

When Keira was born, her parents Melanie and Derek noticed her right eye seemed smaller and her head seemed a bit “bulgy.” At Keira’s two-week checkup, her pediatrician ordered an MRI and Xray which revealed craniosynostosis, a condition where the sutures in the skull fuse too quickly. Craniosynostosis happens in one in every 2,000 births. Without surgery, it can cause vision loss, facial disfigurement and developmental problems due to the skull putting pressure on the growing brain.

Keira had her first surgery at just nine months old, opening her skull and placing re-absorbable plates to relieve pressure and help her skull naturally fuse back together as she grows. Because her skull will continue to change as she gets older, Keira has had more surgeries and will continue to see specialists like dentists, speech language pathologists, ophthalmologists and plastic surgeons. 

Now 11 years old, Keira loves playing the piano, performing in musical theatre, playing Roblox online with school friends, and doing anything she can to support the Foundation. We can’t wait to get to know her better as she shares her story with people across Manitoba.

Brady and Keira are just two examples of what happens when, as a community, we put our heart into making sure kids get the very best care. This February, show your heart and join us in making a difference for kids like Brady and Keira. Visit goodbear.ca. Let’s make anything possible. 

Stefano Grande is the president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. To learn more, visit goodbear.ca.