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Suneil's story

Monday, 14.03.2011 / 11:00 AM / Features
By Derek Jory
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Suneil\'s story

Suneil Samra has experienced the healing powers of the Vancouver Canucks.

When Suneil was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2007, the seven-year-old spent five days at BC Children's Hospital before returning home with new instructions on how to live his life.

For the past four years Suneil’s daily routine has included eight to 10 finger pricks to check his blood sugar, sometimes every hour on the hour throughout the night, and twice-yearly visits to see Dr. Metizger at the Endocrinology Clinic.

Although Suneil, who will always be insulin dependent, has experienced more difficulty and pain in 11 years than most see in a lifetime, you’ll never catch this boisterous, shaggy-haired hockey fan feeling sorry for himself – or missing a Canucks game. The difference between him and other Canucks supporters is Suneil cheers for them on the ice because of what they do off of it.

“My favourite Canucks players are Daniel and Henrik Sedin because of how they donated $1.5 million to BC Children’s Hospital, and they didn’t do it for publicity, but just to do it for good will,” said Suneil, an avid soccer player who has a role in the new movie Treasure Buddies.

Inspired by the generosity of the Sedins, the Canucks for Kids Fund has made a gift of $5 million in support of BC Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Campaign for BC Children, as well as the Diabetes Research Laboratory at the Child & Family Research Institute.

Monday’s announcement has cemented Suneil’s bond with the team.

“For the Canucks to donate like that, it’s amazing because they’re our team, they’re the Vancouver Canucks. For them to be supporting the new BC Children’s Hospital is just terrific. They are superstars that are supporting a hospital, it’s major.”

If it were up to Suneil, the design of the new hospital would include a massive swimming pool – for rehab, not cannon balls – a giant soccer field, and maybe even a movie theatre. The youngster understands that he may not get his wish on any of those includes, but as long as the new children’s hospital allows families to flee reality now and again, he’ll be happy.

“It’s important to be with their family and escape from the hospital environment, have fresh air and relax. When you’re in the hospital and you see needles or patients coming through, you get a little nervous, but when you’re with your family outside of the environment, you feel more relaxed and safe.”

The colours, pictures and friendly staff make BC Children’s Hospital a warm place to visit for Suneil, but at its core, the current hospital no longer meets the needs of BC’s kids, despite being the only facility in the province in which seriously ill and critically injured children have access to a combination of a broad range of expertise in pediatric medicine, research programs, advanced technology and intensive care.

To rectify this, the Campaign for BC Children is raising the estimated $500 million to build a new state-of-the-art, family-centered and future focused hospital.

Backing such an endeavor is the basis of Canucks for Kids Fund (CFKF), an organization dedicated to supporting children’s charities throughout the province. CFKF has had a longstanding partnership with BC Children's Hospital, providing substantial in-kind and promotional support and granting more than $1.3 million to assist in areas like diabetes research, to help kids like Suneil.

Of this $5 million dollar gift from CFKF, $3 million will go towards the capital campaign to build the new BC Children’s Hospital and $2 million will support the newly named ‘Canucks for Kids Fund Diabetes Laboratories’.

The aim of these laboratories is to understand the causes of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children, and one day develop new treatments to prevent or cure this devastating disease.

While there’s no way of knowing if Suneil will benefit from this diabetes research tomorrow or in 10 years, he isn’t concerned. Suneil understands that he isn’t he only one fighting a battle and a new hospital will go a long way in helping all the other sick kids out there.

“To have another hospital means less people in one, so there’d be more nurses, if there’s more nurses that means it’s quicker to get to the patient and that would just be wonderful. There’s a lot of people going in and out of the doors everyday at the regular BC Children’s Hospital and to have another one would just be great.”

Having another will be great and you can help. Become a superhero and donate to the Campaign for BC Children.

Also, don’t forget about the 21st annual Canucks for Kids Fund Telethon, which takes place Wednesday, March 16th. All donations support the Canucks core beneficiaries, including Canucks Autism Network (CAN) and Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. Click here for more information.

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