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It Takes a Village

Strong Kids Newsletter

It takes a village

It Takes a Village…

The new Golisano Children's Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center is inspiring donors of all varieties and experiences to support a new era of children's health. From kids with lemonade stands to families with a few thousand dollars to spare to billionaires with huge hearts, every donation is appreciated – and very much needed.

The Parents

At their 19-week ultrasound, Christina and Jeff Sickelco started a journey no parent ever expects to make. Their unborn daughter's heart was severely underdeveloped and contained a complicated set of defects. The couple switched from a regular obstetrician to the Strong Perinatal Group so they could receive expert care for their fragile baby.

On April, 12, 2013, Katherine arrived early. Things looked surprisingly good for a little while, but the couple soon learned their baby girl had a brain hemorrhage. Still, Katie learned to breathe on her own. A couple weeks later, she was eating on her own. And it turned out that her set of heart defects were almost balancing each other out. It was possible that Katie would skip her first surgery and go home.

The roller coaster of her short life took a sharp dip when blood stopped flowing freely through the main artery from her heart to her lungs. Pressure built in her tiny heart and surgery was needed. For Christina and Jeff, the hope of going home with their baby girl slipped far away again.

Then, Katie's oxygen levels suddenly plummeted and she had to be put back on a ventilator. She never recovered.

"She died in our arms," Christina said. "They had prepared us, and we were able to make a memory box, and the nurses helped us do footprints and handprint casts. We got a lock of her hair and took tons and tons of pictures and video."

From the beginning of their experience at Golisano Children's Hospital, the Sickelcos felt like the nurses were right there with them. Their depth of caring came through in the little things. They gave Katie nicknames – "Katie Bug," "Sweet Pea." She was born with a lot of hair, and one day, a nurse found a tiny red barrette and clipped it into her (color) hair, just like any other baby.

"It was nice to see with all the tubes and everything. Just being able to focus on that red barrette instead…"

It takes a village The Sickelcos weren't sure what to do after the loss of their precious daughter, but they knew they wanted to do something for the hospital. They went to the hospital's giving website and took a virtual tour of the future Golisano Children's Hospital. They decided they wanted to give a gift in memory of Katie and to honor the nurses who had stood beside them for the hardest six weeks of their lives. When the new hospital opens in 2015, Katie's name will be on the NICU Nurse Manager's Office.

"Her name will live on in the hospital. That means a lot to us because that was our home for six weeks," Christina said.

The Bank

At Canandaigua National Bank & Trust, the company always strives to do what is best for their customer. That same philosophy extends to its philanthropy, always striving to do what is best for the community.

It takes a village "When you look at the fabric of a community, strong educational institutions, a strong presence of community banking and a strong presence of health care are all elements that enable a community to be successful," said George W. Hamlin, IV, chairman of CNB and chairman of the University of Rochester Medical Center board.

Every year, the bank receives more than 900 requests for donations. The institution puts a priority on giving to community-based organizations along six main themes: health care, education, children, the arts, life needs (such as clothing, housing and food) and historical preservation.

The new Golisano Children's Hospital building met CNB's criteria in several ways, and it has committed to a six-figure gift for the project.

CNB's incredible support of the University extends back more than 40 years, through contributions to the River Campus, Eastman School of Music, the Memorial Art Gallery, Highland Hospital and Strong Memorial Hospital entities. The bank's recent gift to the new Golisano Children's Hospital building is just the latest way the institution is supporting the University and the community's economic and physical health.

"This gift gives us an opportunity to support one of our region's premier health care systems," said Frank H. Hamlin, III, president & CEO of Canandaigua National Bank.

The Community Group

The day Jackie and Ben Klube left Golisano Children's Hospital with their daughter Ali, who had just had life-saving heart surgery, they made a commitment to themselves. They would always give to the hospital when asked.

It takes a village Within months, they received a copy of the hospital's newsletter promoting the Stroll for Strong Kids Walk. They decided to form a team with some friends and raise what they could for the 2003 walk. Team Ali-Gaiters raised an impressive $2,770 that first year.

"But once we got to the Stroll and we realized how big it was, it motivated us. We wanted to do more," Jackie said.

The family stepped it up with a coin collection and a car wash. Then, they started kicking around the idea of a clambake fundraiser. Jackie bought two bags of clams and some chicken and invited friends over to their backyard. She expected 30, maybe 40 people.

Jackie walked out her back door to the surprise of 100 people gathered in support of the hospital.

"That's when we really realized that we had the potential to make this grow," she said.

This year, the Honeoye Falls clambake drew more than 500 people and raised $27,168.

Over the past decade, the family has raised more than $165,000 for the hospital through the Stroll, the clambake and a 5K race. They've donated money to the hospital's brain tumor fund, a new piece of cardiology equipment and a pre-anesthesia room. Although they've never committed to funding something so large before, the Klubes are excited and confident about meeting their goal to name a private patient room in the new Golisano Children's Hospital. They are two years into a five-year fundraising drive.

Jackie said she recently got a little extra motivation from a note she received from a mother whose child had been in the pre-anesthesia room named in honor of the Ali-Gaiters. The mother wrote just to thank her for all the Ali-Gaiters have done to support the hospital.

"It made my heart smile."

The new $145-million Golisano Children's Hospital is currently under construction on Crittenden Boulevard and will open in 2015. The hospital is in the middle of a $100 million campaign to construct the new building and enhance programs. The effort is part of the University of Rochester Medical Center's $650 million campaign and the overall $1.2 billion goal of The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester.

To find out how you can support the new Golisano Children's Hospital, please call (585) 273-5948 or visit