In 2013, a local Ontario dairy farming family learned that their young son Kael was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.

“We were told only a small number of kids around the world had ever been diagnosed with this terminal disease—patients usually didn’t survive past 12 years old,” says Kael’s mother.

Kael was admitted into SickKids Hospital for treatment and remained there for a year before he was able to return home.

Like Kael’s family, many other families across the province rely on children’s hospitals. This need inspired Dairy Farmers of Ontario to partner with these hospitals and support their capacity to meet the health and wellness needs of children and their families. Part of this support includes Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s annual donation to SickKids and other Ontario children’s hospitals in Ottawa, London and Hamilton.

“It’s our nature to nourish,” says Cheryl Smith, CEO of Dairy Farmers of Ontario. “Families are such a big part of our world with more than 3,200 family dairy farms across Ontario, many handed down through generations. We know that when a child has to be admitted to a hospital, it impacts the whole family. We wanted to do our part to help Ontario families by supporting the hospitals that provide the most critical care to children in the most difficult of times.”

In 2023, Dairy Farmers of Ontario donated $500,000 to SickKids Hospital in Toronto, McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Children’s Hospital in London, and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa. Since 2019, annual donations of at least $500,000 have brought the total donation to these hospitals to $2.6 million.

“Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to Dairy Farmers of Ontario for their ongoing support of SickKids. Their generous donation of $2.6 million is helping to advance our vision of Healthier Children. Better World.,” says Julie Garcia Sjogrim, Vice President, Corporate & Community Partnerships, SickKids Foundation. “The holiday season can be an extremely trying time for families spending it in the hospital and we extend our deepest thanks to DFO for their commitment to bringing cheer and helping us to heal the future.”

In 2023, the Milk & Cookies campaign donation was accompanied by Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s special Magic Milk Glasses that were given to children spending the holidays at Ontario children’s hospitals. The glasses featured a built-in cookie cutter with designs drawn by children from across the province to help spread holiday magic to all throughout the season.

Almost 10 years after his diagnosis and treatment, Kael has made a remarkable recovery. Through incredible care and commitment on the part of from these Ontario children’s hospitals that, children like Kael and their families are able to get through the most trying times. Initiatives like the Milk & Cookies campaign are how DFO does its part to nourish and support the care and comfort of families who need it most.