C.H.I.L.D.: Relief for forgotten children

Put your money to work for you," cry banks, mutual funds companies and financial advisors from sea to shining sea. But British Columbia’s former premier, Grace McCarthy, wants you to put money to work for children.

Grandmother of a child with Crohn’s disease, a painful inflammatory bowel condition, Mrs. McCarthy co founded the B.C. Children with Intestinal and Liver Disorders Foundation (C.H.I.L.D.), with Lindsay Gordon of the Hongkong Bank of Canada. The foundation’s aim is to raise $3 million by December 1998. Interest from the investment of this capital will fund on going research by at least two pediatric gastroenterologists into the serious intestinal and liver ailments some children suffer. The organization will also support a children’s digestive clinic at the B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Far more than "a tummy ache," these disorders are extremely serious, causing chronic severe pain and often a delay in normal growth. Family members suffer, too. The frustration of not being able to help a hurting child, the added medical costs, the time not spent with siblings and the difficulties of holding a job under such circumstances, all exact high emoonal and financial costs.

Because the circumstances of their illnesses are considered embarrassing or private, McCarthy calls them "the forgotten children." Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, pain and excessive bleeding are not usually considered topics of polite conversation and, consequently, these problems are a hard sell when competing for a donor’s dollar in the world of children’s charities. But money is needed to determine the causes of these disorders, to develop treatments that work, and to provide a strategy for prevention.

Dr. Eric Hassall and Dr. David Israel, pediatric gastroenterologists at the B.C. Children’s Hospital, currently serve all the children of B.C. But according to current medical standards, the province should have six to eight experts in this field. The B.C. C.H.I.L.D. Foundation has designed a two year campaign as a once only request, aiming to provide funding for research that will attract more specialist physicians, shortening diagnosis and treatment times for these young victims.

With the exception of postage and legal costs, all funds raised are added to the endowment fund. Administrative and operating costs are donated by members of the foundation, described by Mrs. McCarthy as "a no nonsense group." They’ve attracted support from a wide variety of business and community organizations and had fun doing it. A Black Tie Bingo held recently at the Westin Bayshore raised $14,222 for C.H.I.L.D. and is slated for a return engagement in 1998.

For more information, or to contribute to B.C. C.H.I.L.D., write to Suite 1150, 1188 West Georgia St., Vancouver, B.C. or call (604) 736 0645.