“For his 8th birthday my son, Sami, is donating half of his birthday money to North York General Foundation through ECHOage. He wanted to thank the amazing nurses and doctors in the NICU for all their hard work in helping bring his sister, Maya, home last year, after she was born three months premature.” – Proud Father, Neil Mendes
When we saw this note come through with a generous donation, we just had to learn more about Sami – one of North York General Foundation's youngest supporters.
Sami’s father Neil told us that Sami always gives part of his birthday gifts to charity, using ECHOage, the online tool that splits birthday presents between gifts for a child and the charity of your choice. The birthday boy or girl gets one big gift that they really want – for Sami, that was a PlayStation so he can play his favourite hockey game. The remaining funds support charity.
“When Sami saw the NYGH logo as one of the charities he could support, he knew right away that was it,” says Neil. “He wanted to give back to the hospital that helped his baby sister.”
Born 12 weeks premature, Maya spent the first few months of her life in the Tippet Foundation Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“They were incredible,” says mom, Iram Khan. “I can’t believe the level of care our whole family received. We truly felt that everyone was invested in getting her healthy.”
Every weekend, Sami would come to visit Maya, carefully watching the doctors and nurses, and even participating in the care himself. “Sami was the first sibling to participate in Kangaroo Care (a method of skin-to-skin contact that helps premature babies thrive),” Iram says proudly.
Today, Sami still enjoys helping his mom and dad care for Maya at home. “We’re so proud of how he has stepped up as a big brother,” says Neil. “And things like this – giving back to say thanks to the hospital – show us he’s setting a good example for Maya.”
There are many ways that community members of all ages can give back to NYGH. Click here to learn more!