Seeking Smiles

Seeking Smiles

November 25, 2014 10:58 ET

Seeking Smiles Hosts Third Annual Fundraiser to Benefit the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwired - Nov. 25, 2014) - Seeking Smiles announces that its third annual "Teddy Bear Tea" to benefit children at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre (WRC) will be held on Saturday, November 29, 2014 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Main Dining Room at the Hotel Saskatchewan. The special event is sponsored by EVRAZ, and will feature a silent auction with exclusive items to help raise additional funds for the organization. Tickets for the event are available at www.seekingsmiles.org.

Seeking Smiles is a charity focused on providing resources to, and increasing the awareness of, the children's area at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in Regina.

Seeking Smiles was founded by Michaela Markwart in 2011 when she was just 11 years old. Over the course of three years, Michaela visited her grandfather at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre until his death in 2006. During that time, Michaela and her mom became friends with many of the other residents and caregivers at the hospital. Upon her grandfather's passing, Michaela asked her mother a provocative question: "Will we still go to the Wascana Hospital now that Grandpa is gone?"

Michaela and her mom, Sandy Markwart, continued to visit the WRC and provided bus tokens and haircuts at Christmas. Michaela especially liked to bring cookies and ice-cream to the residents. Over time, Michaela began to realize that the children's area at the WRC would benefit from new equipment and renovation. From this thought, the idea of Seeking Smiles was conceived.

Seeking Smiles' first activity was a fundraising letter sent to friends and family. Michaela prepared handwritten notes to each benefactor, soliciting their support for the kids at Wascana. Michaela's extended family also held a garage sale and many neighbours contributed items whose proceeds went to the charity. Through these initial efforts, Michaela raised over $3,000 which funded the purchase of special cleft lip and palate bottles for babies, DVD's used while casting, a literacy program, and some new toys for kids with moderate to severe disabilities.

Wanting to do more, Michaela asked the senior management of WRC to help identify other areas of need. That discussion led to a three-year, $7,500 commitment by Seeking Smiles to fund the purchase of a patient lift system. Installed at the hospital in 2012, the lift helps caregivers ensure that patients are safely transported from wheelchair to bed.

In 2012, Seeking Smiles launched its inaugural "Teddy Bear Tea" fundraising event. Fashioned after its namesake - a formal holiday tea in Boston - attendees dress up and enjoy an afternoon of conversation and refreshments at the Hotel Saskatchewan. Last year's event was sold out and, along with its silent auction, raised over $10,000.

The proceeds of the event's first two years have been sufficient to fulfill the patient lift commitment two years ahead of schedule, and fund the renovation of a Quiet Room to provide privacy for families which was completed earlier this year.

In the summer of 2012, the Hospitals of Regina nominated Michaela for the Outstanding Youth Award presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). This was a tremendous honour for Michaela and all of the supporters of Seeking Smiles. At a luncheon event, the Saskatchewan branch of the AFP announced the winners for each of its charity categories. Michaela was proud to be a runner up in the Youth category - a special moment for anyone, let alone a 12 year old charity organizer. At last year's "Teddy Bear Tea", Michaela was awarded with the Outstanding Youth Award from the Hospitals of Regina Foundation for her efforts. This recognition has been an additional inspiration for Michaela.

About EVRAZ

EVRAZ North America is a leading steel manufacturer with six steel manufacturing and 20 recycling facilities across the U.S. and Canada. We produce flat, long and tubular steel products for major markets including infrastructure, energy, defense and rail.

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