Trees from last year’s Festival of Trees at the Bay Centre. This year

Festival of Trees helping sick children around Island

Shaun Cerisano admits he gets emotional when looking at one particular tree that's part of the Festival of Trees.

Admiring the trees that have been decorated as part of the Festival of Trees, Shaun Cerisano admits he gets emotional when looking at one particular tree.

The tree was decorated by five-year-old Reid Van Rossum, as part of the Festival of Trees, an annual fundraiser in support of the B.C. Children’s Hospital at the Bay Centre and the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

The tree is decorated with ice skating ornaments, fishing lures, as well as mini basketball, football, baseball and soccer ornaments.

“They’re the favourite things that (Reid) loves in life and the things that he gets to do thanks to the surgeries and treatment that he had at B.C. Children’s Hospital,” said Cerisano, philanthropy manager for B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation Vancouver Island.

“When I see stuff like that, the emotional connection to the decor, that really hits home.”

Reid was born with a congenital heart defect called pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum, in which a valve failed to develop and obstructed the connection between the right and left ventricles of his heart.

Over the next three years, he endured a three-stage procedure, ending with a complex surgery this summer that helped supply blood to the lungs.

After recovering and now five-years-old, Reid is more energetic than ever and able to enjoy the simple things such as running around and playing with his sister — even having enough energy to decorate a tree as part of the festival.

This year, the festival is celebrating 25 years in Victoria, with a record-breaking 85 trees — 65 of which are at the Bay Centre, while the other 20 are located at the Empress Hotel. The trees were decorated by sponsors, local businesses, organizations and individuals.

The festival was originally started by a volunteer committee, who realized the hospital benefits many patients who travel from Vancouver Island to the Mainland for treatment as well.

After more than two decades, many families continue to make a tradition out of the downtown festival — coming back year after year to check out the trees.

“Families will take their children and their grandchild and will go and look at the trees that we have. They’re really creative and really unique. It gives families an opportunity to celebrate the holidays,” Cerisano said, adding there are trees that have been decorated in the theme of Harry Potter and Dr. Seuss, as well as trees decorated by a bridal store that have been shaped into wedding dresses.

“Families can teach their children as they’re looking at these trees that there are children in our province who aren’t as fortunate as them and have gone through a health crisis at a young age.”

The goal is to raise $200,000. So far, they’ve raised more than $140,000, surpassing last year’s total of $136,000. The public is able to vote for their favourite tree by texting “Tree” to 45678 to make a donation.

Funds raised go towards the Excellence in Child Health Fund, which supports research into childhood diseases, life-saving equipment and rehabilitation.

The Festival of Trees runs until Jan. 3.

 

 

 

Just Posted

Adopted pet pig gets killed and eaten

Animal was adopted out by SPCA staff in the Cowichan Valley

Charge laid in Central Saanich dog cruelty case

Daniel Howard Ruygrok charged after dog found with compound fracture

VicPD officers assaulted by women in two separate incidents

One officer’s injuries required a hospital visit, following downtown fray

North Saanich pedals ahead with bike lane expansion

Road alignment modifications made following resident feedback

BC SPCA proposes fines for animal mistreatment, reduction in commercial trade

Animal welfare group’s ideas brought to Victoria councillors

VIDEO: What you need to know today at the B.C. Games

All 19 events are underway across Kamloops, where five to 10 cm of snow is expected to fall

Wounded Warrior Run BC makes it to the Comox Valley

Day four of the annual fundraiser saw the team stop in Courtenay and Comox

Sask. school shooter to be sentenced as adult

The man was just shy of his 18th birthday when he killed four people and injured seven others

Internet questions PM’s fashion choices in India

The Trudeaus’ eight-day visit has been dogged by various controversies since it began Feb. 17

WATCH: Walking from Argentina to Alaska one step at a time

Holly “Cargo” Harrison is in Williams Lake, resting a pulled hamstring before he continues on his 15,000-mile walk to Alaska.

BCHL Today: Merritt Centennials keep moving while Salmon Arm Silverbacks slide

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Former Canuck Roberto Luongo addresses Florida shooting victims

Parkland, Fla., resident, delivers speech before Florida Panthers’ first home game since tragedy

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Kelowna skier Kesley Serwa adds to Canada’s gold medals

Despite losses in men’s hockey and curling, Canadian women won medals in ski cross and figure skating

Suspected serial killer targeting Toronto gay community now faces six murder charges

Bruce McArthur now charged with murders of six men: Toronto police

Most Read