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IWK Patient Van Bernard Announced as 2019 Children’s Miracle Network Champion

March 11, 2019

IWK Patient Van Bernard Announced as 2019 Children’s Miracle Network Champion

March 11, 2019 (Halifax, NS) – This morning, eleven-year-old Van Bernard, from Hammonds Plains was officially announced as this year’s IWK’s 2019 Children’s Miracle Network Champion Child at a special celebration held at Walmart Canada’s Dartmouth Crossing Supercentre.

Throughout 2019 Van, and his family, will represent children and youth who receive care and treatment at the IWK by sharing his story at fundraising campaigns and events in the Maritimes and the United States. The Children's Miracle Network Champion Child is a special program that brings together children representing 12 children’s hospital foundations across Canada to celebrate pediatric health and wellness.

“Van has become an incredible ambassador for the IWK over the years so we are very excited to name him as this year’s 2019 Champion Child,” says Keely Wallace, Manager of Community & Corporate Giving at the IWK Foundation. “He is wise beyond his years. And, he always steps up to the plate to help us inform and inspire our donors, and the greater IWK community, about the world-class care the IWK provides to for patients and families.”

At 10 months old Van was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), Type 2 – a genetic neuromuscular condition that affects every muscle in his body. In 2016, he underwent an innovative surgery at the IWK that helped change his life. He was one of the first patients in Canada to use a new innovative technology called magnetic controlled growth rods, or MAGEC rods. The IWK is one of only a few hospitals in Canada that has this technology available and for Van it means fewer surgeries in his future.

“The IWK is super awesome – everyone that works there is incredible,” says Van. “When I am sick they always take great care of me! I think it is so cool that I can represent all the kids at the IWK as the Champion Child. I hope they’ll be proud of me.”

On March 16, 2019, Van, his sister Carys, and his parents Julie and Colin, will travel to Orlando. They will participate in events at Children’s Hospitals Week with other patients and their families from across North America who know first-hand the importance of having access to critical and specialized pediatric care. Children’s Hospitals Week is proudly supported through the sponsorship of Children’s Miracle Network partners Walmart Canada, the Air Canada Foundation and The Brick.




About the IWK Foundation

The IWK Foundation is a champion of excellence in women's and children's health and medicine and works in partnership with the IWK Health Centre to support their vision of providing quality care to women, children, youth and families in the Maritime Provinces and beyond. Our donors are passionately committed to making a difference for Maritime families, contributing over $13 million to the most urgent care priorities at the IWK last year. Funds raised also support the IWK's global leadership in research and knowledge sharing, which in turn improves lives worldwide. For more information, visit

About Children’s Miracle Network

Children's Miracle Network® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals, 14 of which are in Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and research. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the non-profit’s mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Find out why children's hospitals need community support, identify your member hospital and learn how you can Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are, at and

For more information, please contact:
Penny Sears
Communications Strategist
IWK Foundation

Excellence is in your hands.

IWK Health Centre Charitable Foundation Charitable Number: 867558090RR0001