‘Kids for Kids’ Tournament Helps Kingston Health Sciences Centre Provide Life-Saving Care

‘Kids for Kids’ Tournament Helps Kingston Health Sciences Centre Provide Life-Saving Care Image

On March 22-24, the Kids for Kids Hockey Tournament will take place in Kingston. Over the years, the tournament has donated vital funds to Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) Pediatric Unit, helping to provide excellent critical care for newborns like Carter Ibbotson.

On March 26, 2023, Kelsey Ibbotson gave birth after just 26 weeks of pregnancy to her son Carter. He spent a total of 117 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 

“He was due at the end of June and he came end of March, so about three months early,” says Kelsey. “It all happened very quickly. I got to the hospital and within an hour he was here. So we jumped right into the NICU experience. 

“I honestly had no idea what to expect. They start talking to you about all kinds of things and it was all just a blur. It was definitely such a big shock. We hadn’t even decided on a name, yet.”

From those rough early days to Carter being a healthy and energetic boy now, it was a surprise for the Ibbotsons to be approached to represent the Kids for Kids Hockey Tournament as an ambassador.

“We were at our NICU follow-up appointment at KidsInclusive, and they said every year there's a hockey tournament that raises money for the hospital,” says Kelsey. “They asked if Carter would be the ambassador, and I said, absolutely. 

“We're honoured that he was chosen because it was such a rollercoaster ride and not only do we want to thank the staff for all they've done, but I also want others to see how well he's doing. People who are in our shoes can look at how well he's doing, and it could be that way for them, too.”

Thankfully, with the help of many donors, including the Kids for Kids Hockey Tournament, the KHSC NICU is a Level 3 unit, which means it can care for babies who are born prematurely, are critically ill or require surgery.

“Over the years, thousands of kids from across the province have participated in these events, raising thousands of dollars to help KHSC provide vital services through our NICU,” says Erika Kooi, Program Manager of Pediatrics, NICU and Child Life. “This event not only brings visibility to the needs of our program, but has provided tangible benefits for our young patients, by helping us purchase new equipment so that we can continue to provide the highest quality of care.”

Apart from the fundraising aspect of the tournament, Kelsey is happy to bring attention to the NICU for all the important work its staff does. 

“When you donate locally, you become aware of the issues and the needs of those around you,” says Kelsey. “It strengthens our ties with the community. Supporting local health care like the NICU is something everyone benefits from. I hope that by donating to the NICU it helps support resources for parents and staff, and hopefully funds for new equipment. Mostly, I just hope it raises awareness of prematurity, because I was one of those people that didn't really know anything about it.”

Today, Carter is doing well and meeting all the normal milestones. He has gone from being two pounds, one ounce at birth to 16 pounds and growing bigger every day. He can do all these things thanks to the vital support of generous donors who help staff in KHSC’s NICU provide life-saving care to newborn babies in southeastern Ontario.

“The staff were amazing. They were highly supportive, answering all my questions, my husband's questions, and were there for all our needs,” Kelsey recalls. “I feel like half their job is not only taking care of the babies, but also taking care of the parents who are in that situation.”