Jessica Wilson’s Philanthropy Day Speech

Thank you all so much for this award, and for making philanthropy such a huge part of your hearts.

Jessica Wilson

Jessica Wilson

Philanthropy is defined as – the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.  Synonyms include generosity, humanitarianism, and benevolence.

But what does philanthropy mean to you? Philanthropy means something different to us all I think. For me it isn’t one single thing. It is not just a word. Philanthropy is a passion, it’s something we dedicate our time and hearts to. In my case, I have dedicated my heart, and my time to McMaster Children’s Hospital.

It started in 2013, when I did my first event with them. I gave a speech to donors and sponsors regarding the opening of their brand new angiography suite. Since then I have had countless opportunities to represent the hospital and help raise both funds and awareness for their foundation. All of the events and fundraisers thus far have given me more than appreciation, and respect. This time has allowed me to break out of my shell and it has saved my life in more ways than one.

Philanthropy has touched my heart very deeply and it is my greatest passion. I believe what we are all here to celebrate is not just about promoting the welfare of others, or raising funds. I believe it’s about dedicating our time, our ethics and our love into changing the world. Changing peoples lives. We have all focused on different things, my focus has been on McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation and helping other kids like me! The work I have done with them has inspired me to start my own support system. I call it FATE, or kids fighting adversity together everyday. I started this through a blog, and I have used it to reach out to youth who are fighting adversity of some kind, with a focus on physical health. On my blog I have shared my story and experiences, as well as how they have made me stronger. Each article has an outcome, and some motivation, with the hopes of eventually running peer groups locally. I would also like to speak to local kids, and help make a difference in their lives.

I know that if I hadn’t have done the things I have with MacKids I wouldn’t be doing this. I would not be standing here. Philanthropy is so much more than just a word, or even an action to me. Philanthropy is our passion, and how we use it to kickstart change. Mother Teresa once said “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one,” and I think that’s what philanthropy is. I believe that it’s about knowing that sometimes it’s the tiny changes that add up to make the big ones.

Last year I had this girl tell me that I had changed her life and told me that because of my words I have given her a new lease on life. That one girl changed my life, and if she is the only heart I ever touch then that’s enough. I know that one life changed is one more than I changed yesterday.

All of the events, fundraisers and speeches that have landed me here are my inspiration to keep going. They all have inspired me to share my story, raise awareness and reach out because you never know who may be feeling all alone. My goal is to put all of the passion, dedication and time I have into philanthropy, because philanthropy changes the world. I believe that each and every one of us have a different definition of what philanthropy is, or what it means. However I also know for a fact that we can all agree on one thing. Philanthropy is about giving, helping, caring. However you do that, is a different story, but at the end of the day in my eyes we are sharing our passion of giving, helping and caring. That’s why we are here, that is why we do what we do. I believe this is why I was put here, my path was meant to bring me here. So what does philanthropy mean to me? Philanthropy is my greatest passion, and by my definition philanthropy means change. How we change the world, how we change each other.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way! Thank you to my parents, Emma, my family and of course to my second family Jennifer, Nancy, Pearl and the others from McMaster. Each of you have helped me end up here, and thanks to you I am excited and so honored to see what the future holds.