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Honoring the Memory and Achievements of ‘Ms. Ida’

Golisano Children’s Hospital mourns the loss of one of its most inspirational and creative supporters, “Ms. Ida” Wheeler, who died June 21 in Rochester.

IdaMs. Ida devoted the past 13 years to fundraising for Golisano in appreciation of the care her grandson received for sickle cell anemia. She organized the dance and talent shows Talent for Tots and Teens, the Holiday Showcase, and the Dance Strong Competition. Thanks to her leadership, these programs surpassed the group’s fundraising goal of $100,000 and contributed $102,000 for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

“Ms. Ida had the vision to make a difference and she and her committee put it all in motion,” said Stephanie Sheets, assistant director of community fundraising for Golisano Children’s Hospital. “She was a wonderful advocate for Golisano Children’s Hospital and will be greatly missed. We will be forever grateful to her and everyone who supported her fundraising programs.”

Ms. Ida was inspired to give back to the children’s hospital after her grandson spent time in the PICU for sickle cell anemia. A personal battle with cervical cancer didn’t stop her giving spirit; she held her first community fundraiser for the children’s hospital, Talent for Tots and Teens, in 2003, a decade after her grandson was first treated.

Presented with the Miracle Maker for Outstanding Commitment by a Community Group in 2013, Ms. Ida and her team had a passion for helping the hospital and showcasing the talents of children in the greater Rochester area. With the success and growth of the talent show, their fundraising efforts expanded. The Holiday Showcase was developed in 2007 and the Dance Strong Competition was introduced in 2012. In total, this year’s events raised nearly $20,000.

“We are all very proud,” Ms. Ida said of her team’s contributions earlier this year. “Our hard work and dedication really paid off and we could see it in the children’s smiles. I couldn’t have done it without the help of so many people: Mr. Stummer, who provided the trophies and plaques; various dance studios, especially Visions Dance Studio, and dance schools who’ve shown their support and participated in the competitions over the years; and to the committee members who took time out of their busy schedules to make each event the best it could be. We passed our goals in every way.” 

“We are profoundly grateful for the gifts that Ms. Ida shared with the children’s hospital,” said Nina Schor, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-in-Chief at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “She worked tirelessly to provide very generous financial support; just as important, she demonstrated kindness and compassion to our patients. We rely on the commitment of community members like Ms. Ida and her team to help us provide exceptional care for every patient who steps through our doors. Ms. Ida’s legacy and her group’s generosity will continue to inspire others and impact the children’s hospital for years to come.”