Holland Bloorview receives the gift of brotherly love

Every family has its traditions – some fun inciting laughter, others more serious, offering meaningful life lessons.

In Judy and Philip Otis’ family, learning to give back is an important family tradition – proof of which can be seen in the kind actions of her three sons.

Last year, her youngest, Aidan, now 14, made a gift to Holland Bloorview in recognition of his becoming a Bar Mitzvah, just as his two older brothers chose to do before him.

“It’s unified my children with a common goal in their introduction to adulthood,” said Judy. “They’ve learned the importance of honouring a cause that resonates with them and giving back.”

Four years earlier, her second oldest, Spencer (now 18), made a similar gift when he became a Bar Mitzvah. And her eldest, Eli, (now 22) initiated this act of tzedakah (a Hebrew word meaning charity) by giving a gift to the hospital when he became a Bar Mitzvah.

“All of this was in recognition of the incredible support Holland Bloorview gave us when we needed some guidance with difficulties that Spencer was facing,” said Judy.

Experiencing developmental delays, Spencer has benefitted from Holland Bloorview’s physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy programs. 

“Holland Bloorview provided me with support at a time that was challenging,” said Judy. “Everybody made me feel that my son’s needs would be taken care of, regardless of what they were,” she added.

She was struck by the quality of care, the devotion and passion of staff, and the hospital’s commitment to helping kids of all abilities.

“I had such an affinity, an appreciation and respect for what Holland Bloorview does for children,” said Judy. “I really wanted my children to be involved in something where the focus was kids.”

Spencer penned a kind letter to Holland Bloorview that accompanied his Bar Mitzvah gift, stating, “This will allow me to give back to a caring community (Holland Bloorview) that helped me with my confidence. You truly do create a world of possibilities for kids with disabilities.”

But Judy wanted all of her sons to see first-hand just what Holland Bloorview was doing for kids with disabilities and their families.

“I said, ‘You’re not going to do something without experiencing the place,’ so I planned for tours of the hospital,” she said. “I wanted them to understand the importance of what they were doing and why it was meaningful.”

The brothers toured different therapy areas and the prosthetics lab, as well as the music therapy area, which was of particular interest as all three boys love music.

“My brothers and I have seen how the music therapy program helps children express themselves and is an important form of healing,” said Aidan.

“My kids were treated so kindly,” said Judy, reflecting on the tours. “The staff were so genuine, and appreciative in letting them see what happens, and how they can impact that.”

The tours clearly made an impression.

Long before Aidan gave his Bar Mitzvah gift, he was requesting donations to Holland Bloorview in lieu of gifts at his birthday parties. He also shared a detailed presentation about Holland Bloorview to his Grade 4 classmates through Project Give Back, a passion-based program directed to elementary school students.

Understandably, Judy couldn’t be prouder of her boys.   

“It was meaningful that they did the same gift together,” she said. “It was an experience that has united them as brothers with a common desire to help children in need.”

Learn more about how you can celebrate a special occasion with Holland Bloorview!