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Radiothon to help bring an MRI to Estevan

St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation is gearing up for its annual Radiothon for Life, which will take place June 5 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at the hospital's grounds along the Royal Heights Veterans' Memorial Park.
Elaine Walkom, right, presented a cheque for $2 million for an MRI to St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation director Lori Gervais.

ESTEVAN — St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation is gearing up for its annual Radiothon for Life, which will take place June 5 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at the hospital's grounds along the Royal Heights Veterans' Memorial Park.

Bouncy castles will be set up from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The Estevan Market Mall donated two e-bikes which will be raffled off towards the end of the day, with all proceeds going towards the radiothon total. Southern Plains Co-op is sponsoring a barbecue. A lunch by donation will run between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and a barbecued supper will take place between 5 and 7 p.m.

This year, the radiothon will be part of the fundraising campaign aimed at bringing an MRI to Estevan, with all proceeds going towards the $6.5 million total cost of the project. Estevan's Elaine Walkom's donation of $2 million in memory of her late husband Grant, and the subsequent lobbying for the equipment to be installed at St. Joseph's Hospital, launched the project.

St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation accepted responsibility for fundraising the remaining $4.5 million, and Gervais said that reaching all across the southeast corner, the foundation is already seeing a lot of progress.

"This is our 13th annual Radiothon for Life, so we've been doing this for 13 years and every year it supports an important project here within the hospital. … We generally do not have a dollar amount goal for our radiothon, we are always unbelievably amazed by the generosity of the community and are always wholeheartedly thrilled with amounts that we have donated," Gervais said.

"This year, having a $6.5 million goal seems out of the realm of craziness. But this project has begun, and we have Elaine Walkom, who's been our advocate, and her persistence and unbelievably generous pledge of $2 million has gotten us to where we are now. And we've gotten approved by the government, we are allowed to raise the $6,5 million for the project, and then they are committing to operating costs in the 25-26 budget. So that is our purpose.

"With this, the foundation itself has started our MRI campaign and we've been spreading the information to the entire south end of our province, and we've had donations coming in by mail, by phone, online; people are coming into the office here at the hospital. Every single donation, big, small and in between, comes in with a personal story, a story of why this affects most people so personally, and if not themselves then someone they know.

"And because of that, I think we will raise the funds that are needed. It seems like a huge amount of money, but if almost every person who will benefit from this would give any amount that they could, it would take us so much closer to that goal," Gervais said, underlining that having an MRI would not only benefit people in the southeast but also everywhere in Saskatchewan, cutting down the waiting times.

Gervais said she expects the campaign to go on for about 18-24 months with all of the foundation's fundraising efforts contributing to the total.

Local businesses started their own campaigns in the days leading to radiothon. Suds Zone Car Wash, A&W and Domino's Pizza all have promotions, in which parts proceeds are to be donated to the hospital foundation. People can also already donate online at their website, over the phone and in person.

On the day of the radiothon, all payment options will be available at the location. Donations can also be made over the phone at 306-687-0310 and online.

"We are always so thankful to the community that they show up for us. No matter what, no matter what the economy, no matter what the situation, health care is always important to everyone," Gervais said.

As of Thursday morning, the foundation's MRI campaign has raised more than $3 million, including Walkom's pledge.