“YOU NEVER KNOW WHO WILL NEED THE HELP OF THE CHILDREN’S NEXT.”
Proud mom Katrin Nakashima wrote these fateful words in a 2003 fundraising letter for the Children’s that also served to announce wonderful personal news: the adoption of her second son, Justin.
Kathy joined the board of directors at the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation back in 2001 out of gratitude for her first son Jordan, also adopted from birth. Jordan’s only trips to the hospital were the result of being a rambunctious toddler. His third birthday was a fundraiser for the Children’s so that he would learn from an early age how fortunate he was to be healthy.
Little did Kathy know that Justin would not be similarly blessed. She tearfully recalls, “First the doctors said he would never walk. Then that he would be unable to
speak or eat. Then came the news he would lose all ability to move. And finally, worst of all, they said he wouldn’t make it to age two.”
Justin required care from almost every department at the Children’s, including 24/7 home care. And while he surpassed the initial diagnosis of living only to two, and thankfully never lost his ability to smile radiantly, Justin died in 2009 at the age of six.
A hospital needs a solid foundation. Kathy’s commitment to the hospital runs deep on several levels. It’s what makes her uniquely qualified. “I definitely feel passionate about it. I have extensive personal experience with practically every hospital department. And I know the expertise they all bring to the table.” This, combined with her background as a lawyer and past work in governance and with investment committees, has enabled Kathy to help guide the Foundation towards making the right decisions and financing the right projects for excellence and research. “It’s all the things that make the Foundation attractive as a recipient of funds,” she says.
Kathy has given of herself in more ways than one. She’s also a living organ donor, having given a kidney to her sister – part of the overall package that makes her generous to a fault. But for as much as she gives to the Foundation, she receives so much in return. Kathy recalls the wise words of an ICU doctor who deals with loss of life as part of his job. “I asked him, ‘How do you handle it?’ And he said it was only possible because many more children walk out alive and well, rather than not. So that has become my mission – to help as many kids as possible walk out of dire situations and into their family’s arms.”
Those are words to live by, but as Kathy Nakashima has always demonstrated, actions speak louder than words.