Father’s Day surprise brings even more families together

When we teamed up with our WestJet Cares for Kids partner Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada (RMHC) for a Father’s Day surprise, our primary goal was to bring a hard-working dad together with his sick child and to do so without impacting his income.

Thanks to WestJetter Medel Villena stepping in and doing Marc Grimard’s job at Saskatoon Transit for five days we were able to accomplish this goal.

Medel and his Transit coworkers[Medel, right, with his Saskatoon Transit co-workers Enrico, left, and Joel, centre]

Our second goal was to raise awareness and deepen understanding of the valued and important role Ronald McDonald Houses play in keeping families together when a child is sick.

To help achieve this second goal we shared the story on YouTube and set milestones. With every 100,000 views, up to 500,000, we committed to donating flights to bring another RMHC family like the Grimards together. Setting these milestones invited viewers to personally be a part of the magic of reuniting a family.

We cannot thank you enough for responding to our story with views, likes, shares, Tweets, positive messages, and even reaching out to your local Ronald McDonald Houses to volunteer and donate! We reached our first 100,000 views in just a little over 24 hours and shortly thereafter were able to bring together the Chikuse family who is staying at the Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta in Calgary.

Chikuse Family - RMHSA[Tanya, right, and her dad Shorayi celebrate receiving the gift of flight and reuniting with their family as a result of the video reaching its first 100k views milestone]

The impact of our Father’s Day Surprise has been far-reaching. Perhaps most significant is the effect this surprise had on the Grimard family. Ronald McDonald House Northern Alberta in Edmonton shared with us that before Marc and Joel’s big brother Mathieu arrived, Joel was very lethargic and was retaining a lot of water. While Mathieu was around, Joel’s energy level rose so much that he metabolized the excess water – Marc and Mathieu became Joel’s best medicine.

Over the course of the five days they spent together, the Grimards went to a movie as a family, took many walks and even made it to a local festival. The brothers were so happy to be able to spend time together. Mom Angela also felt lighter having the support of her full family and all her men around her.

During their time together the family was able to resume a little normalcy. The gift of a normal routine can only happen when families are together. And since the video was launched we’ve heard that watching it lifts Joel’s spirits!

To celebrate the success of our Father’s Day Surprise, and more importantly, to continue bringing more RMHC families together because sick children heal faster and cope better when they are surrounded by their loved ones, WestJet is donating reunion flights to each of the 14 Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada.

As mentioned in our previous Father’s Day Surprise blog post, it takes many accomplices to pull off a Father’s Day surprise. We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone for making this surprise possible including:
• Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada
• Ronald McDonald House Northern Alberta (Edmonton)
• Ronald McDonald House Saskatchewan (Saskatoon)
• The Grimard family
• Medel Villena
• Saskatoon Transit
• Cossette
• Sons & Daughters
• Jake Kovnat
• Citizen Relations
• Soda Post
• Jody Colero from Silent Joe
• The Saskatoon WestJet team

Happy Father’s Day!