The Ottawa construction industry knows how to dig deep when it comes to helping others.
It happily took part in the Construction Community Cares for CHEO celebration held Saturday morning outside the regional children’s hospital. The first-time event saw an imposing procession of big shiny trucks, some with flatbed trailers hauling excavating equipment and other machinery, make its way past CHEO.
Some young patients watched through the hospital windows, while other kids, both from CHEO and the greater community, gathered with their families along the route. Even CHEO's mascot was behind the wheel of a construction machine that was being carried along.
CHEO Foundation president and CEO Kevin Keohane expressed his deep gratitude to the National Capital Heavy Construction Association (NCHCA) and Ottawa Construction Association (OCA) for their participation in the event while speaking at a ceremonial cheque presentation held just prior to the drive-by celebration.
“Both of you are involved in helping to build the infrastructure and better facilities that allow all of us to live a better life in this community,” said Keohane. “But you do so much more. You take that other step further. That philanthropy and generosity that comes out of the construction industry in Ottawa is really, really something special, and something for which you don’t get enough credit.”
He thanked the associations for the joy they were bringing to the children at CHEO. Besides being sick, the young patients also have to deal with being indoors, away from their schools, families and, in many cases, friends.
“For you guys to take the time to rally together to raise money and to bring together something that’s really going to put smiles on the faces of kids … You should be really, really proud.”
It was award-winning volunteer fundraiser Paul McCarney, president and CEO of Clean Water Works, who first floated the idea past the NCHCA and OCA to put on a parade-like show of trucks and heavy equipment to coincide with a donation they were making to the hospital. McCarney has served in the past as head of both association boards.
“We jumped on it instantly,” said Steve McEachen, board president of the NCHCA and general manager of Aecon Construction Ontario East. “We did a call-out to our members to get people to participate. I think it was in two days that the list was full.”
Likewise, it was “a no-brainer” for the OCA, said board chair Ray Shannon, account executive at BrokerLink Canada.
One of OCA’s former board chairs, the late Roly Hein, helped to build Roger Neilson House, a hospice for pediatric palliative care. The facility, which opened in 2006 at CHEO, celebrated its 15th anniversary earlier this year.
It was also at Roger Neilson House where five-year-old Maddy Otto passed away on July 17, 2007, shortly after her tragic diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumour. And where her parents, Jeanine and Dean Otto, received subsequent bereavement counselling. The family has since been holding an annual charity gala in Maddy’s memory and in support of Roger Neilson House.
The Otto family fell just shy of its cumulative goal of $1 million at its most recent fundraiser in early 2020.
McCarney attended that gala. His son Kyle, who works for Inflector Environmental Services, is dating the Ottos’ daughter, Hannah, 21, a fourth-year student at Carleton University.
McCarney launched a fundraising campaign with the NCHCA and OCA. They were able to raise $91,000, which was more than enough to help the Ottos reach the $1-million mark they were striving for.
Jeanine told OBJ.social how lucky she felt to have such good people in her corner. “I’m so humbled.”
The NCHCA and OCA presented the cheque to the CHEO Foundation on Saturday. Also present were OCA president and general manager John DeVries, NCHCA executive director Kathryn Sutherland and Megan Wright, executive director of Roger Neilson House.
The weather turned out to be perfect for the construction convoy, with sunny skies and pleasant temperatures.
“No one rains on a parade like this,” quipped Wright as the event got ready to roll.
D-Squared Construction Ltd., JD Brule Inc., Clean Water Works Inc., Marathon Underground Constructors Corporation, D&G Landscaping Inc., Inflector Environmental Services, Aecon Construction Ontario East Ltd., Flynn Canada Ltd., J.R. Brisson Ltd., Ken White Construction Ltd., Munro Group Inc., Louis W. Bray Construction Limited, EllisDon, M. Sullivan & Sons Ltd., MacEwen Petroleum Inc., Cooper Equipment Rentals, Matt Creamer Contracting Inc., ASL, Jara Sweeping, R.W. Tomlinson Ltd., Battlefield Equipment Rentals Inc., Taggart Construction Limited, S&R Mechanical, GPS to Go, Clarmo & Winter Trucking, PCL, Climate Works, Thomas Cavanagh Construction, Green Tech Ag & Turf, Thunderbolt Contracting Ltd., and Goldie Mohr Ltd.