When Gage Goetz decided to sell his 4-H steer Sammy to benefit the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan, he never imagined he would be able to raise so much money.
Gage, a nine-year-old member of the Outram-Madigan 4-H Club and the son of Trevor and Tammi Goetz, raised $30,000 through his efforts. The money will be directed to the children’s hospital’s cardiology department.
He decided to sell Sammy to benefit the children’s hospital because Gage has already had two heart surgeries in his young life. Since Saskatchewan doesn’t have a children’s hospital, he had to go to Edmonton for the surgery.
Sammy was sold for $12,000 to Certified Energy Services during the Estevan Rotary Regional 4-H Show and Sale Thursday night at the Estevan Exhibition grounds.
“I thought it was great, because I thought the more money it could get, the better it could be for the hospital,” said Gage. “Then they can get better things that they need with the money.”
But that wasn’t all.
Moments after Sammy was sold, auctioneer Norm Mack from the Mack Auction Company asked Gage if he would be willing to part with the show stick and the halter. Gage agreed, and those two items were sold for $12,000 to a conglomerate of local businesses and organizations.
The sale of the halter and the show stick was a surprise. It was an idea that came from other 4-H members and leaders.
Gage said he initially hope to raise $7,000 for the children’s hospital.
Other people showed their support for Gage. There was a 4-H alumni showmanship competition before the show and sale that raised $1,350 for Gage’s efforts. And members of the Benson 4-H Club held a bake sale which went to Gage.
And he did some fundraising of his own before the auction date.
“I’d like to thank you all for supporting me in this fundraiser,” he said.
Gage said the past few weeks have been a real learning experience.
“I’ve learned that you can do nice things even though you don’t have to, and you don’t need the money even though you get it from a buyer,” said Gage.
He looks forward to when Saskatchewan kids will be able to receive care closer to home, and they won’t have to go to Edmonton or other locations for surgeries.
Gage is also looking forward to when he will be able to get care in Saskatchewan, as Gage will need to have checkups for the rest of his life.
Tammi Goetz marvelled at the amount of money Gage was able to raise for the hospital.
“We’re very happy with the support the community has given to Gage and his fundraising,” she said.
When Gage told his parents that he wanted to raise money for other children in the province, they were very supportive of the idea.
“We think it’s a wonderful thing for him to be able to give back. The journey that Gage has been on, it’s opened our eyes to a whole different world and a lot of families, and we understand how important it is to have access to have access to top-notch medical care, and so this is just a wonderful way for him to say thank you and to give back to other kids in Saskatchewan,” Tammi said.
While he has had health problems in the past, she said her son is now doing well and is an active boy.
“That’s all thanks to all of the wonderful physicians and nurses and surgeons that have helped him along the way.”
Stacie Lawson, the manager of development and engagement from the foundation, praised Gage and others for the work they have done to help make the children’s hospital a reality. She noted that construction on the hospital is complete, and they are on target to be open this fall.
“We now have the immense task of moving in 77,000 pieces of equipment and furniture, and training 2,400 staff,” she said.
It will house the only pediatric intensive care unit in the province and three pediatric surgical suites. It will also have private rooms for parents and children, state of the art equipment and expertise.
She noted that the unit Gage has supported will treat many cardiac abnormalities in children without the need for open-heart surgery.
“This space will also act as a special procedure room where complex procedures, which do not require the space of the OR (operating room) will be performed,” Lawson said.
The children’s hospital can change the hospital experience by providing a family-focused environment that is for kids and families who need it.
She noted that former Saskatchewan Roughriders linebacker Mike McCullough is on their board. One of McCullough’s children died at a young age.
“Mike said it best when he said ‘This will be a state of the art facility and we hope it stays empty, but it won’t. Our families need this hospital,’” said Lawson.
Janine Petterson, who is the spokesperson of the local 4-H show, marvelled at Gage’s willingness to help others.
“The support was phenomenal. I was really impressed with the Estevan area, with how they came out and supported it. And I thought it went to a really good cause.”
And it gave the show a boost in terms of interest in the community, with extra people showing up.
Donations for Gage’s efforts are still being accepted through a page that was set up on the children’s hospital foundation’s website.