Provincial Variety telethon this weekend helps Comox Valley children

The Boelk family knows first-hand how important funds raised via the annual Show of Hearts Telethon are to the families who receive them.

The Comox Valley’s Tori Boelk, 6, has Di George Syndrome, a condition caused by the deletion of a small piece of chromosome 22. She is non-verbal, unable to walk, is on ventilation and has a tracheostomy tube and feeding tube.

Tori, the child ambassador for the 2011 Comox Valley Child Development Centre Telethon, can drive herself in a motorized wheelchair, which mom Erin points out allows some independence for her.

But, because this wheelchair weighs 300 pounds, the family had to install a lift on a vehicle to transport Tori and it once they got it.

Variety – The Children’s Charity contributed $7,500 toward the installation of a lift and tie downs, which has greatly improved the family’s ability to get out and about.

“With the van, she can drive right on in, we lock her in place, and we drive right on out,” says Erin. “It just allows you to be a bit more mobile, and it allows you to be a bit more normal.”

Erin notes equipment costs and other expenses like nursing care all add up, so any grants to help cover some of the costs are gratefully accepted by the family.

The vehicle modifications alone cost $20,000, and to have a lift installed, the family first had to buy a new van, which meant the entire cost was around $50,000.

Variety provided grants to 1,277 families in 2013, according to a news release. Thirty-two organizations offering programs and services to children with special needs also received grants for things like new hospital equipment, medication, physical therapy, mobility and communication devices and bursaries to special schools.

The Show of Hearts Telethon is Variety’s largest fundraising event. Last year the telethon raised more than $7 million.

The 48th annual telethon airs from 7 p.m. Saturday to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, (Jan. 25 and 26), on Global BC.

Performances by Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Elton John and Cirque Du Soleil are part of the programming lineup. Pledges can be made by calling 310-KIDS or visiting


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