As he puts it, Gordon Lentz does not have much real estate left on his large frame for new tattoos.
But after hearing that a fundraiser for the Stollery Children’s Hospital was to take place in Red Deer on Saturday, he jumped on his motorbike and hightailed it up from Drumheller.
“It’s things like this that show you there’s hope for the human race,” said Lentz while waiting to be inked at Classic Tattoo’s Hudson Heart Project fundraiser on Saturday night.
Like event organizers Lucas and Jayme Ford, Gordon Lentz has reason to be appreciative of the Edmonton hospital.
When his daughter was three years old, she was in a vehicle that was hit by a train near Millet.
The staff at the Stollery put an extra bed in his daughter’s hospital room so Lentz could stay there with her. Twelve years later, he still seeks out opportunities to give back to the hospital that serves children from Alberta and other parts of Western Canada and the North.
The Fords decided they would hold a tattoo fundraiser almost immediately after their son Hudson was born with a rare congenital heart defect last year. Their son, now healthy and home in Red Deer, spent the first eight weeks of his life at the Stollery, where the couple say he received excellent care.
The fundraiser brought 14 tattoo artists in from around Alberta and they worked from 10 a.m. right through to 2 a.m. Sunday providing over 100 attendees with a variety of pre-prepared “flashes,” many of them heart-themed. The Fords wanted to raise $15,000 on the day; their final tally will be in the neighbourhood of $22,000.
Lucas, who is a tattoo artist at the studio, has done a similar fundraiser tattooing blitz before, in the wake of the Japan tsunami in 2011. But this one was a little closer to the, well, heart.
“There’s so many things that are so expensive there, that cost so much money — any little bit helps,” said Jayme.
In 2013, the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation brought in $16.8 million in fundraising alone. The hospital has over 200,000 patient visits annually, and is the referral centre for complex pediatric heart surgeries and transplants and is a major organ transplantation centre. It is also home to Canada’s largest regional program for neonatal intensive and immediate care.
Jayme said the couple plan to continue fundraising for the hospital and through the sale of tattoo machines her husband makes they hope to raise another $5-10,000. Hudson will require a third heart surgery at age three.