Thursday, June 17, 2004

Thu, June 17, 2004
Hospital champ misses her day
Dying teen fought for new children's facility


Janelle Redekop should have been at the new Alberta Children's Hospital site yesterday, smiling while Premier Ralph Klein helped pour the last of the cement for the facility. Instead her family was planning her funeral, reflecting on the hours she spent in the community raising awareness for the aggressive blood disease that eventually claimed her life.

"Janelle took a lot of interest and pride in that hospital," said her dad, Jack, going over pictures of his 14-year-old daughter.

"She had an amazing outlook on life because she always thought her condition was a blessing, since she was able to do so many things she never would have otherwise."

Janelle died in a Minneapolis hospital last week, shortly after a bone marrow transplant and a long battle with Fanconi Anemia.

She was only 10 when she became the Alberta Children's Hospital's Champion Child, and between blood transfusions and countless hospital stays, Redekop appealed to the public for donations to the yet-to-be-opened facility.

"She was a real firecracker and was really active in fundraising," said Klein.

All that fundraising, coupled with good weather, has put the $200-million facility in the city's northwest three months ahead of schedule.

It's now scheduled to open in August 2006.

"This is great news for the people of Calgary and many others across the province," Klein said.

"Everyone involved in this project can be extremely proud -- this hospital started as a dream and a vision, and it took a lot of hard work to make this happen."

Part of that hard work involves making the hospital a place where children don't feel threatened, said Marcus Desireau, one of the youth advisers for the project.

"The drawings make it look like a very friendly place," he said, noting that the hospital's open concept plan calls for lots of windows with views of the mountains, the river valley and Nose Hill Park.

And if the atmosphere is anything like the one Janelle experienced at the current children's hospital, said her dad, then countless kids will be in very good hands.

"Everyone was so good to us during our time there," said Jack.

Although Janelle had been sick most of her life, her death was still a surprise for him, his wife Tannis and their two sons, Jon and Jay.

"We were all together and we said a final prayer -- we said that if it's time for her to go, we understand, and Janelle would have told us the same thing."

Janelle's memorial service will take place in Calgary tomorrow.

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