Participants line up to register for Herbie Fund’s second annual Walk for the Children held Oct. 14 at the Toronto Zoo. With their passport in hand, the participants are ready to begin their walk through the zoo ending with a barbeque at the picnic grounds.

Families take a walk for the children

Families help support Herbie Fund by participating in the Walk for the Children

The loss of a child is something that Mara Hill knows firsthand. One of her twin boys died while being treated at the Paediatric Care Unit at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). She said her loss is the reason she supports the charity Herbie Fund, and attended the second annual Walk for the Children held at the Toronto Zoo on Sunday Oct. 14.

“This is our way of remembering him and having fun,” Hill said.

Despite the rainy weather, the day was a success. It consisted of a walk around the zoo ending with a barbeque featuring face painting, a bouncy castle, and live entertainment.

We want to raise awareness about what the Herbie Fund does while teaching kids to be giving and kind…

— Vicky Milner

All the proceeds from the walk benefit the Herbie Fund. The Herbie Fund is an organization that raises money for children from countries where the medical care they need might not be available. They pay for the child’s surgery at SickKids. The fund has helped over 684 children from 102 countries.

“It’s such a beautiful family event and we want to raise awareness about what the Herbie Fund does while teaching kids to be giving and kind and philanthropic, as well raise money and help more kids around the world,” said event associate and SickKids’ representative for Herbie Fund Vicky Milner.

Milner said that around 300 people attended the walk. Last year the walk raised $100,000 and Milner hopes this year matches it.

“What better way than to bring your kids to the zoo and show them all the different areas of the world,” Hill said. “Hopefully if we help as many kids as possible, they’ll have the chance to visit the zoo.”

The cost of a surgery ranges from $25,000 to $35,000 depending on the problems and issues the child has. The Herbie Fund only pays for a child’s surgical costs, not the child’s airfare. However, there are other programs and funds that help pay for airfare.

The fund was established in 1979 by then Metro Toronto chairman Paul Godfrey and his wife, Gina, after hearing about Herbie Quinones. Quinones was born with a birth defect that was only treatable at SickKids. After reading about his story, Paul and Gina Godfrey helped raise money for Quinones’ medical costs and the Herbie Fund was created.

“We’re very lucky to have the Hospital for Sick Children here. They have the best doctors and the best facilities. Most people don’t have that especially from the countries we help,” Milner said. “You need to be humanitarian, and you need to look around and give others what you have in your own city.”

The Herbie Fund relies solely on volunteers and donations. Aside from Walk for the Children, they also have a charity gala in December and Herbie Day in June.

“It [Herbie Fund] really gives you that stimulus and encouragement every day to work hard because you know you’re saving these kids lives,” Milner said.