Emma Waverman writes about the chaos of modern family life in the kitchen and out of it. She has a weekly food column on CBC Radio One, Here & Now. She is the co-author of the family cookbook Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival for Picky Eaters and Families Who Love Them and is hoping to one day finish her certification as a parenting coach. She lives with her three kids, ranging from tween to university student, and husband in Toronto. Emma has written for a variety of national lifestyle magazines and newspapers. When she's is not making typos, telling you what she thinks, and thinking about dinner, you can find her on Twitter at @emmawaverman and Instagram. You can contact Emma at embracingchaos@hotmail.ca.

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Air Canada Supports Sick Kids With Heart & Wings 

When I signed on to help out the Air Canada Foundation at the Rally for Kids with Cancer I wasn’t expecting to be inspired by the people that I met. But that is exactly what happened.

The Air Canada Foundation is a long-time sponsor of the car rally which has raised 20-million for Sick Kids cancer care over the past 10 years.  The event is similar to a scavenger hunt, where competitors get access to different parts of the city that are usually hidden from its citizens.

The airline also had a car in competition with a team of incredible women including: teen Emma Neaugu, the youngest competitor in the rally but also one of the fiercest. The driver was Captain Dawn Wells, one of a handful of female Air Canada captains and a veteran of the Canadian Navy and actress Jess Maclellan, (from the shows Mistresses and Legends of Tomorrow) was the team’s token celebrity (but she didn’t act like one).



Emma, at the age of 14, has already been through more than most of us will see in a lifetime. Barely two years ago she hurt her leg while training for an acro dance competition. The pain wouldn’t go away and eventually an osteosarcoma was found on her right femur. Since then there has been horrifying chemotherapy, a feeding tube, radical rotationplasty surgery and now the prosthetic that uses her ankle as her knee. Thanks to SickKids, she is back to dancing and even started tap lessons this year. As a SickKids ambassador, she shares her story with anyone who wants to hear, including in front of an audience of hundreds.

She speaks with grace and a maturity that is both a gift and burden to those who have undergone such extreme circumstances. It is easy to forget that she is only in Grade 9.  But underneath, she is still a little girl who can’t contain her enthusiasm for being placed on the with Air Canada team and the chance to hang out with Dawn who regularly captains long-haul flights to California.

The Air Canada hangar was one of four pit stops in the city-wide car rally. While at the hangar, competitors had to finish four challenges before they could move on to another part of the rally. Each team collected points at the pitstops which were tabulated at the end of the day. Emma had a chance to sit in the cockpit of a plane and go through two different pre-flight checklists.

 Heather Hamilton (TJZmommy) had a beautiful moment bonding with Emma's mother. They talked about the gifts and wisdom of being a Sick Kids mom, and the gratitude they felt for the hospital. 

Sponsoring the rally is just one small part of what the Air Canada Foundation does. Each year, the Foundation donates approximately 10-million Aeroplan Miles so that children like Emma and a parent, can travel from their home to hospitals for treatment. The Air Canada Foundation Hospital Transportation Program works with 15 pediatric hospitals across the country. The Foundation also donates hundreds of tickets to charitable fundraisers and has been providing well over $1 Million in financial grants per year for the past 3 years. The Foundation was started in 2012, but Air Canada has been supporting Sick Kids for 25 years and has been involved in the community for 80 years.

Over 40 Air Canada employees volunteered at the hangar. There were flight attendants in uniforms from different decades; people teaching competitors to use a baggage loader and another Captain and flight attendants running two challenges on the giant plane itself one of which was a match making lead by Brad Smith, from the Bachelor Canada and Chopped Canada! He was hilarious and goofy and I’m not sure why he needed to find a girlfriend on national TV, but he tells me he now has one in LA. There were other celebrities involved including Billy Baldwin, John O’Hurley (J. Peterman from Seinfeld) and some athletes. 


The employees are very proud of the charitable work that Air Canada does for the car rally, and in the community. Captain Dawn Wells told me about going to Sick Kids over Halloween with other staff and how much those visits meant to her over the years.

This was Dawn’s second year driving the car for the Air Canada team, and she was in the competition to win. But she was able to balance her competitive spirit with kindness. Everywhere the team went she made sure that everyone was comfortable, she introduced herself to every volunteer and kept everyone’s spirits high.  She started her career in the Navy and handed out Remembrance Day poppies to anyone who asked. Dawn is one of the most amazing women I have ever met -- and speaking with her even got Jess over her fear of flying! 

Jess Macallen’s passion for the cause was obviously heartfelt. To be honest, I had dismissed the celebrities’ participation as merely cursory but watching them compete made me rethink. Jess told me that after she visited Sick Kids once, she knew that she would whatever she could to help the hospital. Brad Smith has done over 40 events for Sick Kids this year. Billy Baldwin kicked in extra money to buy some more supplies so that kids can be treated for chemotherapy at home.

The combination of Emma, Jess and Dawn was so competitive they left every other team in their wake – and won the car rally. They were thrilled beyond measure, but they also recognized that their win was small compared to all the good that was done for Sick Kids that day.

*this post is sponsored by the Air Canada Foundation


Reader Comments (2)

Love this amazing work that is being done for sick kids. Keep it up!

July 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

I am sorry about the 14 year old kid got cancer.

August 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMat @ antispygadget

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