Westley Hood wins Children's Wish Foundation volunteer award

Charlottetown's Westley Hood is the winner of the volunteer of the year award from the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada.
Westley Hood accepts his award. From left to right: Kent Scales, vice-chair of the Children's Wish Foundation, P.E.I. chapter; Jeanette Wakelin, national board member; Westley Hood; and Beth Corney Gauthier, director of The Children's Wish Foundation, P.E.I. chapter. (Children's Wish Foundation of P.E.I.)

It began with the Short Fat Guys Downhill Run, a questionable athletic endeavour that created a champion for the Children's Wish Foundation of Prince Edward Island.

"First year I collected a couple of hundred dollars. The next year I raised $300 or $400, each year that I have been doing this it went up and up and up and up, and now I'm getting over $20,000 a year," said Westley Hood, this year's Children's Wish volunteer of the year.

The fun run has been replaced by the annual Walk For Wishes. Twenty-five years later Hood, a porter at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, still is at the front of the pack when it comes to fundraising.

25 years, $250K

Over the years Hood has collected $250,000 to grant wishes to sick kids on Prince Edward Island. Roughly translated, that's two wishes a year from his volunteer efforts alone.

I just like to help a lot of people.- Children's Wish volunteer Westley Hood

"I see a few of them here in the hospital," said Hood of the wish kids he's helped. "Every time I see them I drop in and talk to them for a few minutes."

Over the last two decades Hood has assembled a list of people who he's come to count on for contributions. It's a three-month effort beginning in late June and ending the day before the annual walk in the fall.   

"I don't know, it's just the way I am I guess," Hood said of his efforts for numerous events in Charlottetown.

"I just like to help a lot of people at different tournaments and stuff like that. I just help along."

Westley Hood is the Children's Wish Foundation national volunteer of the year. (Mitch Cormier - CBC )

This year, to Hood's surprise, he was awarded the Laura Cole National Volunteer Award by Children's Wish Foundation of Canada. It came as a complete surprise and was announced, appropriately, at an event he was volunteering at.

"I was pretty shocked over that, I didn't expect anything like that, but that's the way they sprung it on me."

The award came with a short trip to the annual meeting in Ottawa. This is the first time the national award has been awarded to a volunteer from Prince Edward Island.