There is one Halloween that Mary Beth Taylor remembers very well—and not because of a creative costume or festive treat.

“I was volunteering in my son Daniel’s classroom when they started pulling students out of class for routine hearing tests,” she says. “Because there was a Halloween party happening, he was reluctant to leave—but I assured him he would be OK.”

She soon received a letter stating Daniel did not pass the test. “It was something we hadn’t really imagined,” she says. “His speech was great, and he was off-the-charts in terms of his vocabulary.”

And so, the family began their journey with an audiologist. After further testing, Daniel was scheduled for surgery to insert tubes into his ears. The surgeon soon brought bad news to the waiting room: they had discovered benign growths in his ear.

“I was kind of in shock when they said, ‘We found this and it will require significant intervention,’” she recalls.

Daniel became a patient of pediatric otolaryngologist Dr. Jodi Jones in the Children’s Hospital, undergoing several invasive surgeries over the next few years. “She is a miracle worker,” says Mary Beth. “We immediately had trust with her.”

In March 2020, Mary Beth was hoping for news that a prosthetic hearing bone had helped Daniel regain his hearing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. At a check-up, Daniel’s audiologist looked down his ear and said, “There’s something going on; it’s full of fluid.” A massive lump quickly developed behind his ear. It was mastoiditis, leading to a weekend hospital admission followed by a three-week stay—which landed right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We saw the hospital basically shut down, and through it all, we had extraordinary care,” she says. “It was the worst of times but also very beautiful because we felt safe and people were taking care of us. They made sure we had the information we needed, and I felt cared for and valued—and so did my boy.”

Daniel now wears a hearing aid in one ear, visiting the clinic every six months for check-ups. “Everything is clear, but they’ll have to continue to monitor him to make sure it doesn’t come back,” says Mary Beth.

To give back, Daniel set up a trust account at the Winnipeg Foundation, collecting donations for HSC Children’s Hospital. In addition to his philanthropic efforts, he loves soccer, basketball, drawing and playing Fortnite.

As a parent, Mary Beth remains grateful to the hospital and caring, dedicated staff. “It’s a place where you don’t want to go through its doors but when you do, you’re grateful it’s there,” she says. “A strong community has a strong children’s hospital.”

One volunteer especially moved Mary Beth. “She knows when you’re a parent of a sick child, you might not have the time to give back—so she volunteers in their honour,” she says. “I’m so grateful for the staff, volunteers and donors who make it all possible.”

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