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Pot of Gold raffle supports Vancouver Island kids with health challenges

Bear Essentials program bridging the gap for children with complex healthcare needs
Cooper (left) and Lucas Lidstone share a special brotherly moment. Lucas, a child with special needs, has been greatly helped by a program called Bear Essentials. (Photo courtesy of Laura Lidstone)

Fundraising efforts are taking place through a Pot of Gold 50/50 raffle now until March 16 in support of the Children’s Health Foundation Bear Essentials Program.

The raffle aims to raise money for the supportive program that aids Vancouver Island families with the cost of health-related travel and equipment for children experiencing a variety of unique health challenges.

The intent of the program is to remove barriers to access, said director of family programs and impact, Anita Brassard.

“The program began in April 2021 and not even a full year into the program yet, we have funded 232 pieces of equipment and 533 trips,” Brassard said. “We are Island people supporting Island kids; we want to support families and children in need in our own backyard.”

Support is available to help cover travel costs associated with receiving health care, medical or therapeutic equipment, specialized formulas, non-insured medications and therapies not covered by public health insurance.

Laura Lidstone said Bear Essentials has provided her non-verbal son, Lucas, with equipment that has improved his ability to communicate his needs, especially while at school.

“When you have a special needs child, help is not well known and you have to go searching for help and support – especially financial support.”

When Lidstone was introduced to Bear Essentials she was thrilled when her application for Lucas was approved and a talker tablet was funded.

“He uses it at school every day – he has all of his classmates’ names on it and is able to use it functionally – such as to ask for a cucumber,” she said. “We also went to a Bear Essentials donor event recently and he ended up hitting the button ‘I love it, thank you,’ and that was totally unprompted.”

Bear Essentials also provided an activity chair that helps Lucas sit properly while he’s eating, a piece for an off-road stroller that allows the family to hike together since he tires easily, and a double bed equipped with compartments that create ease for his night nurses.

To have support from Bear Essentials has been amazing for Lucas and the family, Lidstone said. She hopes to help other parents who have children with special needs feel more hopeful and supported.

To reach out to Lidstone, contact her at

Tickets for the raffle are available online until March 16 and the draw takes place March 17. The raffle jackpot will be split down the middle with half the proceeds going to the winner and half to support the Bear Essentials program.

Purchase raffle tickets at

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