Vic Gnaedringer and Susan Frizzell show off Polly the puppy on the grounds of the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health in Saanich. Polly

Along came Polly: Children’s Health Foundation supports guide dogs with $15K grant

B.C. Guide Dogs increasingly helping children, teens

At just 12-weeks-old, Polly rings a bell and calmly waits for her chance to go outside to relieve herself.

The golden labrador is in the guiding hands of Saanich couple Vic Gnaedinger and Susan Frizzell. The goal is to graduate Polly through the B.C. & Alberta Guide Dogs program as an autism support dog or guide dog.

Polly was at the centre of attention last week in front of the Children’s Health Foundation office, as the Saanich-based organization donated $15,000 to the B.C. Guide Dogs program. In turn, the Children’s Health Foundation were given the opportunity to name Polly.

“We chose the name for one of the first children Queen Alexandra Solarium treated at the original Mill Bay location in the 1920s,” said CEO Linda Hughes of Children’s Health Foundation. “In those days, the focus was tuberculosis and polio. It just goes to show you how the needs of children have changed.”

The solarium relocated to Saanich in the 1950s and the Children’s Health Foundation came after that.

It’s the first time Frizzell and Gnaedinger have raised a dog. They were drawn to the idea because of Gnaedinger’s visually impaired niece, who has benefited from her guide dog.

“We are really enjoying it, this might become a regular thing for us,” Frizzell said. “There’s a lot of fun to it, Polly has regular playmates with her brother Carl who is just down the road from us.”

This year, a grant proposal by the B.C. Guide Dogs caught CHF’s attention.

“We’ve moved from supporting adults to also supporting youth and children, and this is the first year we’ve received funding from Children’s Health Foundation,” said CEO Will Thornton of B.C. & Alberta Guide Dogs. “We have two whole teams of guide dogs graduation soon which are supported by Children’s Health.”

Autism support dogs help facilitate daily life skills and provide comfort and security to children with autism. The dog prevents the child from suddenly running or wandering off, and reduces stress, anxiety and frustration levels of the child. The dogs also help in social settings.

Butterfly Ball raises record donations for CHF

Children’s Health Foundation held its seventh annual Butterfly Ball, for father and daughter, and raised the most to date: $44,000.

The ball was held on May 2 at the Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour and tickets sold out in less than a week. Dinner, dancing, games and a live and silent auction made up the evening. The event included a personal story shared by a local family of how support from the foundation has made a difference to them.

The Butterfly Ball has now generated over $185,000 in support of children and youth with disabilities and health challenges across Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. The money supports child and youth mental health, the Queen Alexandra Summer Camp, the purchase of therapeutic equipment, Jeneece Place and the Bear Essentials Program, which helps families cover costs related to their children’s medical care.



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