MOUNTIES BRIGHTEN THE DAY
By Danette Dooley
By Danette Dooley
Cancer, tracheotomies, IV lines and feeding tubes took a backseat to Santa, singing and dancing when the RCMP B Division held its annual Christmas party at the province’s only children’s hospital in St. John’s.
The RCMP has been hosting a party at the Janeway for 29 years.
While Santa (S/Sgt. Gary Styles) was busy delivering presents to the children’s rooms, the Church Lads Brigade (CLB) band, St. Pat’s Dancers and numerous other performers entertained other children patiently waiting for the man of the hour to arrive and take his seat near the big Christmas tree.
More men in red (serge, not velvet) sang carols in the hallway while Styles visited children, including six-month-old Lilly Brown, who was born with a rare chromosomal disorder and has been at Janeway since birth.
“Lilly has been doing awesome. She’s had two surgeries and pneumonia twice. She’s a fighter,” said her proud father Brian Hedderson.
Seven-year-old Daelen Murphy is also no stranger to Janeway. He’s been coming back and forth to the hospital for over three years. ‘I have cancer,” Daelen said, sitting next to his father Embry.
“Don’t be upset; you’re doing good,” Murphy said, putting his arm around his son’s shoulder.
Daelen’s face changes quickly when asked what he’s hoping to get for Christmas.
“I’m going to get skylanders giants the game and skylanders giants all by itself. Milla is my little sister, she’s four. She got Lego friends and Barbies and monster girl.”
Later in the morning, Daelen is thrilled when his name is called to go get a present.
Two-year-old Melody Stuckless from St. John’s shied away from the visitors but loved toddling about near the stage when a traditional Newfoundland band began performing. Seeing her reach for their instruments, the musicians bent a little lower so she could take a closer look while they continued to play.
Melody is 29 months old, said dad Shawn. Born three months premature, she spent the first 26 months of her life at the hospital.
“Only for the Janeway I don’t think we would have got through it. This is her third Christmas but hopefully, knock on wood, her first Christmas home,” Stuckless said.
Dr. David Price said the party is good for the children as well as their siblings.
“I’ve been here for more than 20 years and it’s the high point of the Christmas season, especially for the youngsters who are here for a long time. It brightens up their day. It’s a classy show and it’s very good for them.”
For A/Comm. Tracy Hardy, the party was her first as commanding officer of the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador. Hardy joined the force in 1981 and has policed in Saskatchewan, North West Territories, British Columbia, Yukon and Prince Edward Island.
She assumed the position of Commanding Officer of L Division (Prince Edward Island) on May 3, 2010 and commanding officer of B Division two years later.
“I found as I was going through the hallways and into the different wards that there was lots of laughter, some smiling, some sadness but seeing the look on the little ones’ faces when Santa arrived was thrilling,” she said.
Styles said putting on the famous red suit and visiting the children year after year helps him put life in perspective.
“Someone’s always got more trouble than you do. It’s important to see that they are getting good care here at the Janeway. We always look forward to coming here at Christmas and we’ll look forward to it again next year.”
Photos to choose from for story:
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Tracy Hardy, Santa (Staff Sgt. Gary Styles) and seven-year-old Daelen Murphy of Paradise, Newfoundland