Miracle Makers: Ms. Ida Wheeler's Talent for Tots & Teens
Outstanding Commitment by a Community Group
The uncontrollable crying of a grandchild is enough to alarm any grandmother. At the time in 1993, Ms. Ida Wheeler’s instincts were telling her that there was something wrong with her 2-year-old grandson, she just couldn’t figure out what.
“I did everything I could do for him as his grandmother, but he just would not stop crying,” she said. So, they turned to Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where her grandson was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia.
Amazed by the level of care and attention given to her grandson, she knew immediately that she wanted to be able to give back and show her gratitude.
“Everyone treated my grandson like a king. They treated him so well, all of the doctors and nurses were so kind and provided him with such great care,” she said. “So, I thought, I’ve got to do something. I’ve got to give back to Golisano Children’s Hospital, I just didn’t know how.”
Seven years later, opportunity came calling. After submitting her resume to a temporary staffing agency, she was placed as a secretary for Pediatric Administration at the hospital, a placement that would eventually lead to a permanent position at the Medical Center. She felt that she was finally in a position where she could give back. Enthusiastic to raise funds, she, however, had to be patient a little longer.
Two months after being hired, Ms. Ida was diagnosed with cervical cancer. It was evident though, that even cancer could not break her spirit.
Her will to give back would serve as motivation as she endured radiation, “I kept telling myself: I have to get better. I have to get well so I can help Golisano Children’s Hospital. The children need me.”
Ms. Ida won her fight with cancer and finally, in 2003, a decade after her grandson was first treated, her dream came true and she held her first community fundraiser: The Talent Show for Tots and Teens. The annual event showcases the children of the greater Rochester area and their hidden talents. Her first show raised $1,000; in 2012, the Talent Show raised $13,000.
With the success and the constant growth of the Talent Show, Ms. Ida and her team expanded their fundraising endeavors. They developed the Holiday Showcase in 2007 and introduced the Dance Strong Competition in 2012.
In 2012, they enjoyed a record-breaking year, raising $21,302 through the collective success of all three of the shows. In addition, the talent shows have evolved into one of the top 10 community fundraising events for Golisano Children’s Hospital.
Combining a love for youth talent and a passion for helping the hospital, Ms. Ida and her team have created a valuable and dedicated community fundraiser. Ms. Ida’s compassion and endless desire to help the children are the driving force behind all of the events.
“I love the kids, they’re just so sweet. I love to see them having a good time on-stage, whether it’s singing or dancing. It brings a smile to my face knowing the kids are helping raise funds to help out other kids.”
Golisano Children’s Hospital relies on the selflessness and commitment from community members in order to help provide exceptional care for every patient who steps through its doors. Ms. Ida Wheeler and her team are no different; her vivacious personality and caring demeanor have earned her and her team this year’s Miracle Maker Award for Outstanding Commitment by a Community Group.