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About Sickkids
About SickKids

December 17, 2009

The Olympic torch ignites SickKids' Olympic spirit

It's not every day you get to catch a glimpse of one of the world's most recognized symbols: the Olympic flame. So it's no surprise that hundreds of people packed the SickKids Atrium tonight to see the torch make a very special pit stop at the Hospital as part of the 2010 Olympic torch relay.

Onlookers erupted into applause, cheers and chants of "go Canada go" as the flame arrived through the Elizabeth Street entrance. Inside the Hospital, the stairwells and balconies were packed with people trying to sneak a once-in-a-lifetime peek of the torch. Outside, people cheered on SickKids' official torch bearer Stephanie Belanger as she walked in with the flame.

A social worker in the Crisis & Psychosis unit in the Department of Psychiatry, Belanger was overjoyed to take part in the event. "It's a tremendous honour. I have no words to describe what this event means to me and everyone in the Department of Psychiatry. It's a great opportunity to talk about, and raise awareness of, mental health." She told Daily News she was "beyond excited" to be running on behalf of SickKids as well as the children and families she works with.

The ceremony included speeches from SickKids President and CEO Mary Jo Haddad, SickKids Foundation Board of Director Chair Patsy Anderson and Psychiatrist-in-Chief Dr. Abel Ickowicz.

Several special guests also popped by tonight's ceremony, including CTV Toronto's weather personality Tom Brown, eTalk's Ben Mulroney and members of Team SickKids who competed in the World Transplant Games last summer.

Approximately 12,000 Canadians will help carry the Olympic flame across the country as part of the relay. By the time it reaches B.C. Place on Feb. 12, 2010, it will have travelled over 45,000 kilometres and will have stopped in 1,000 Canadian communities.

Words from Stephanie Belanger, SickKids' torch bearer!

A delay in last night’s Olympic torch relay prevented SickKids’ torch bearer, Stephanie Belanger, a social worker in the Crisis & Psychosis Program in the Department of Psychiatry, from saying a few words after she entered the Hospital. Here, now, is what she had to say!

Helloooo SickKids. It is my pleasure to welcome the Olympic Flame to SickKids!!!!

I think that this is one of the greatest celebrations that SickKids can have because our children, families and staff are like Olympic athletes.

You represent EXCELLENCE, which means that you strive to be and do the best that you can at any given moment.

You represent GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP in that you have the grace, dignity and integrity to overcome challenges that life brings you.

You represent COURAGE and face those challenges head-on.

Vous etes ceux qui porte les medailles a tous les jours. You are the ones wearing medals every day. This is your flame.

We, at SickKids are all so proud of the hard work that our patients and families do to get well and stay well, and we’d like to encourage everyone watching to help us reduce the burden of mental illness.

Mental health is something that affects everyone. We all know what a night of poor sleep feels like. We all know what it’s like to face something that is difficult to cope with. We all know what it’s like to feel unwell. Please support mental health. It’s a concern for all of us.

I would like to thank RBC for granting me the incredible honour and privilege of carrying the Olympic Torch on behalf of all of our patients, families and staff, some of you who are in Olympic Ring-coloured shirts tonight, showing your support for mental health.

I would like to thank the Department of Social Work for all their support and encouragement!

I would like to thank Dr. Abel Ickowicz, our Chief of Psychiatry here at SickKids, for making this happen.
I would like to thank my team, the Crisis & Psychosis team, for the passion and commitment they display in the work that they do every day, and for their support in tonight’s celebration.

Finally, I would like to congratulate our Olympic athletes for being such great role models and demonstrating how hard work and determination lead to success.

On behalf of SickKids, we’d like to wish them the very best of luck at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.

For more news and photos about the event, read Warming hearts: Olympic torch stops at SickKids on the SickKids Foundation blog.