Personal Story - Young Philanthropist Raises Funds and Awareness for KHSC’s NICU

In January 2010, Kate Griffin gave birth to twin boys, Bryant and Colton, who were born at 25 weeks at Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site. After 10 days of fighting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Bryant lost his struggle and passed away in his parents’ arms. Colton was finally able to go home after a long fight in critical condition and 117 days in the NICU.

Now 10 -years-old, Colton reads above grade level and plays numerous different sports with no long-term health effects from being born 15 weeks early. He also uses his birthdays and other occasions to raise funds and awareness for the NICU that saved his life.

“We’re so very thankful for the amazing care we received in the NICU and are committed to ensuring that support for this care continues in Kingston,” says Kate. “We’re happy to do our part and we’ve instilled in Colton an awareness to give back. He thinks it’s ‘cool’ he’s been able to help the babies in the hospital.”

Each January, Colton invites his class, hockey team, and family friends, to the Invista Centre for his birthday. Attracting more than 150 people, the family rents the ice for hockey and open skating, kindly asking everyone to donate to the NICU instead of bringing gifts.

“In the last six years I think he has raised more than 7 thousand dollars,” says Kate. “Obviously at 4- or 5-years-old it was our influence but it was such a great turnout that we decided to make it an annual thing. He’s always so excited to have that many people at his birthday.”

The family also hosts a ‘Preemie Picnic’ with two other families each summer, and for the last two years they have been the ambassadors for the phenomenally successful Tim Hortons Smile Cookie campaign. Their hard work seems to be paying off as Colton shows no signs of slowing down his fantastic fundraising and awareness-raising efforts.

“It’s very rewarding to be a part of the Smile Cookie campaign,” says Kate. “We are in touch with so many preemie families and often see how important it is to have the resources of our very special NICU right here in Kingston. I remember when I was in labour with our boys and not knowing if a baby born at 25 weeks could survive. Now, even Colton and his friends understand the amount of hard work, equipment and amazing people that are needed to help babies like him get through, and have such successful and healthy lives.”