Generosity of Spirit™ and Professional Award 2021 Recipients
AFP Calgary and Area Chapter recognizes the many individuals, families, groups and businesses who demonstrate the spirit of philanthropy through outstanding contributions of time, talent, leadership and financial support. The Generosity of Spirit™ Awards provides the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate these philanthropic leaders that make a difference in our community – whether the community is local, regional, national or international.
Generosity of Spirit™ Awards are a vital component to the National Philanthropy Day® celebrations in Calgary & southern Alberta. This day provides an opportunity for non-profit organizations, professionals, volunteers, service organizations and others in the community to acknowledge and showcase their philanthropic partners.
Being in a position to raise funds is such an honour, a blessing and a privilege. As a family that once had to receive months of intense care at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, I would much rather be on the side of being able to support and give than to have to receive. From the smallest amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, each dollar has massive impact. Do what you can with what you have.
~Jessica Janzen Olstad
Doc Seaman Individual Philanthropist presented by The Calgary Foundation
Jessica Janzen Olstad
nominated by Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation
|Jessica is mom to three children, including Lewiston who was treated at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and passed away from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) in 2016. Jessica and her husband Ronnie felt the community surrounded them in their darkest moments. They encountered so much light and strength in sharing their burden that they were inspired to spread joy and love to others like it was so generously offered to them. |
Jessica turned unimaginable grief into a goal of preventing other families from experiencing a similar journey. She founded the Love for Lewiston Foundation to honour the memory of her son. Her infectious spirit has inspired many to join in her efforts to make a difference for families in our community.
Since losing Lewiston five years ago, Jessica has worked tirelessly to relieve the financial burden for families of children with SMA, who often have to cover the costs of some medical equipment and medications. She has also championed an SMA screening program for all newborns in Alberta. She initiated and lobbied for a pilot research project to study the implementation of screening, and committed to raising half the funds needed for the project, donating over $500,000 to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Her dedication and leadership paid off. The provincial government announced earlier this year that SMA newborn screening would be publicly funded. This means all newborn babies in Alberta will be tested for SMA to ensure the earliest possible diagnosis. Treating children for SMA before they start showing symptoms greatly increases the odds they will survive.
Jessica’s efforts have also positively impacted other areas at or related to the hospital, including Rotary Flames House – the pediatric hospice where Lewiston passed – as well as a brain surgery program called Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy and various mental health initiatives for children and adolescents. Her gifts are being felt throughout the entire hospital and in the greater community and will change the lives of many families now and in the future.