One big heart
Carson Burr’s tremendous work giving back
Can one person really make a difference? The answer is a resounding yes and you only need to look at Carson Burr as a shining example. For longer than he can remember, 15-year-old Carson has been fundraising for the HSC-Winnipeg Children’s Hospital. He has raised over $225,000 over the years, beginning when he was just a toddler.
Born with transposition of the great arteries (when the two main arteries of the heart are reversed), Carson had to be flown from Brandon Regional Health Centre to Winnipeg after he was born blue and went into immediate distress. By the time his parents, Richele and Alex Burr, made the short drive to Winnipeg, Carson was already in surgery. A hole was made in between the chambers of his heart to temporarily provide his organs with oxygenated blood, and at 12 days old, he had open heart surgery to correct the heart defect.
“We really felt we were so fortunate to have Carson and wanted to give back somehow,” says Richele.
The family’s philanthropy all began when the mother and son were walking through the mall in Brandon when Carson was almost a year old, and they happened upon the Children’s Hospital’s Caring for Kids Radiothon.
Richele was invited to tell Carson’s story live on the radio and the pair continued to do this for many years after. When Carson was about three years old, the family took part in the Change Crusader event, which had everyday superheroes, like Carson, crusading on behalf of Manitoba’s Children’s Hospital and collecting change.
“This is my first memory of fundraising. I used to take my jar around and collect the change from all the employees at my mom and dad’s work and our neighbours,” says Carson.
“I think he collected around $250,” says Richele of the young toddler. A few years later, in 2012, Carson raised $2,100 and then the following year, the number ballooned to over $14,000.
By 2014, when Carson turned nine, he was quite familiar with fundraising and he elected to shave his head to raise money for the radiothon. He roped in his father and brother Brody as well, and the trio shaved their heads on live radio.
In 2015, when the lead role in a local community theatre’s production of Oliver meant going bald was not an option, Carson decided to do a fundraising walk with Brody, his dad, Alex and sister Jadyn.
“They walked 10 miles and collected over $28,000,” says Richele of the inaugural Carson & Brody Have Heart Walk for Sick Kids. Since then, the walk has become an annual event and the number of miles increases each year to match Carson’s age.
Funds are raised from family, friends, local groups and businesses from Brandon and surrounding communities, as well as their hometown of Rapid City. Richele and Alex’s employer, Cando Rail Services, generously matches donations made by their staff.
All the steps taken, heads shaved and donations requests were well worth it, according to Carson.
“I know how lucky I am to have had the surgery I needed to fix my heart, so doing a little bit to give back feels good. When you read all the items they are able to help purchase because of the money people raise, it is a great feeling.”
You’d never know Carson had a heart condition. In addition to his generous efforts to raise funds for the hospital, Carson also dances competitively, plays many sports and loves to snowboard.
The teenager’s big heart truly shines when he’s talking about the hospital that saved his life, and when asked what his hope is for the future, the response shows a deep-seated desire to give back:
“There are so many things that I could hope for the future. I hope we can find cures for so many diseases that cause children to have to be in hospital and I hope that there are funds to help purchase equipment for hospitals so they can give the best care for kids.”
Carson shows the incredible difference one person can make and with more people like him, his hope could be realized.
Donate today to help kids like Carson.