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Constable Joe McDougall’s son, Nicholas, has spent 20 of his 23 years at Holland Bloorview. Joe has literally watched his son grow up in the hospital’s facilities, rooms and clinics. 

Nicholas, who has cerebral palsy, has benefitted from a wide spectrum of services – from physiotherapy to speech therapy, from dental care to communication aids.

He’s made friends here, played wheelchair hockey in the hospital’s gym and even celebrated his 16th birthday at Holland Bloorview. (Joe remembers the party with staff and other clients wishing him well around his bed.)

At times, Holland Bloorview really was his home. Twice he was an in-patient at the hospital for six-month stints while recovering from surgery.

Joe is quick to say Holland Bloorview “has done everything for us.”

Along the way, Joe and Nicholas wanted to be involved in research projects. One project led to the design of a specially designed wetsuit that allows kids with disabilities to spend time in the water.

They’ve made friends, developed life-long relationships and feel like they’re part of a special community.

That’s what made leaving Holland Bloorview so difficult, though the friendships remain strong.

“It’s a hard transition,” Joe admitted. “When you’ve been going there for so many years…they have everything you need and then as an adult you have to go to different facilities.”

Despite the new challenges Nicholas faces, he’s thriving. He’s completed high school and according to Joe, he’s “doing absolutely fantastic…he’s always smiling.”

Today Joe wants to help more kids with disabilities smile by supporting Capes for Kids. He hopes wearing his cape will give him the chance to tell as many people as he can about how Holland Bloorview helped his son.

By fundraising he also wants to help other families of kids with disabilities, especially those with young kids who are just beginning their journeys.

He knows the difficult adjustments and transitions that come with caring for a child with special needs. He knows what it’s like to alter expectations and thinking. He knows the fear of not knowing with the future will hold.

He knows the journey ahead will be one of tremendous change – that could mean changing cities, homes, jobs and lifestyles.

Holland Bloorview can show you the way, believes Joe.

Join Joe and support families like his by registering to fundraise for Capes for Kids. It’s fast, easy and the best part is you get to wear a cape March 6-12 and be a hero like Joe.