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Giving Day 2017

Submitted by melanie.tibbetts on Thu, 04/13/2017 - 3:46pm

Investing in the next generation of medical leaders

For 50 years, Calgary’s medical school has been an integral part of our community. Building on its initial purpose of training family physicians, and evolving into an internationally recognized education and research facility, the Cumming School of Medicine and the city it serves are together creating the future of health.

As we celebrate the half century that has passed since the school was established in 1967, we turn our eyes toward the next 50 years. That starts with an investment in our students.

The University of Calgary is hosting its first Giving Day from April 27 to 29, with a goal of creating 50 student scholarships in 50 hours in celebration of the entire institution’s 50th anniversary. During this time, gifts to these scholarships will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $2,500 per gift – giving our donors a great chance to double their impact.

The benefits of supporting our students are many. Starting April 24, as we count down toward the final hours of opportunity to contribute to Giving Day, we will share a new story every day about what it has meant to some of our donors to help launch the careers of medicine’s future leaders.

These members of our community realize what a vital role scholarships play. Not only do they alleviate financial need, award academic excellence and enhance student experiences, but they also pave the way for our future change-makers, entrepreneurs and innovators, and support life-changing research that impacts our campus, our community and our world.

On Giving Day, you can send a message to our students that you believe in their passion and support their vision of how they can make the world a better place – for you, your family, your friends and your community.

Donations will be matched until 1 p.m. on April 29, and participation is simple. But you don’t have to wait until Giving Day to double your impact. You can give online any time before April 29 and designate your gift to an area that matters to you.

Double your impact by donating today, and spark change in your world.


Support through student scholarships

Scholarships change the lives of countless students at the Cumming School of Medicine. Click below to read about some of the ways our community is helping us create the medical leaders of tomorrow. 

Award named for pillar of Cumming School community

Adele Meyers

Award named for pillar of Cumming School community

Dr. Benjamin Goldstein first met Adele Meyers in the late 1990s, while visiting the University of Calgary before applying to its medical school.

“I was a stretch of an applicant,” he recalls. But the school’s longtime coordinator of admissions and student affairs greeted him with her renowned warmth, openness and kindness—traits that, he would soon learn, had touched and changed the lives of thousands of students over the course of her career.

Now an associate professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto, as well as director of the Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Goldstein recalls the discombobulating experience of entering medical school. For many students, this involves leaving home for the first time and facing a workload and academic challenges like none they’ve ever encountered.

Meyers offered each of them unfailing support, guidance and even friendship. She was a confidante, an advisor and a “den mother” to no fewer than 4,300 students throughout her 40-year career.

Maybe the biggest testament to the impact she has had on so many students — a sign her spirit will live on at the school and with the medical professionals of the future — is the creation of the Adele Meyers Award upon her retirement in 2016.

The Cumming School of Medicine held a celebration in her honour, which several hundred current and former students (her “chickens,” as she called them) attended. Over the course of the night, they raised $75,000 for the Adele Meyers Award, a new scholarship for second- or third-year medical students.

Recipients must exemplify Meyers’s values: kindness, compassion and enthusiasm for their classmates.

One of the best examples of Meyers’s famous dedication comes from Dr. Lanette Prediger, now an emergency room physician. In her second year of medical school, Prediger was diagnosed with lymphoma and turned to Meyers for help. The admissions coordinator became her cheerleader, mother-figure and friend. And when Prediger began her chemotherapy treatments, Meyers shaved her own head in solidarity.

“She was ahead of her time,” says Goldstein. “These days, wellness and self-care are present in the workplace and in schools, but they weren’t back then. She brought a unique perspective: that a med student is also a person.”


Student scholarships, like the Adele Meyers Award and those that will be established through Giving Day, leave a lasting legacy - not only in the academic world, but also in our community, our city and our world.

Award honours rural doctor with great heart

Jennifer Wickson and daughter Olivia Wickson Meyers spend some time with Charlotte Breakey — the most recent recipient of the Robert Wickson Memorial Award.

Award honours rural doctor with great heart

Jennifer Wickson remembers her father, the late Dr. Robert Wickson, as a man who took care of everyone.

“He didn’t care what your background was, what your skin colour was. He treated everyone the same,” she says. “He never turned away anyone.”

Jennifer says her father’s generosity and dedication earned him a loyal following, based on the years she spent answering phones at his clinic in Gleichen, a rural community southeast of Calgary. She recalls patients even showing up at the family’s home for treatment.

After her father’s sudden passing in 2010, several of his patients told Jennifer that they simply didn’t know what they would do without his thoughtful care; no other doctor could replace him.

Born in Banff, Dr. Wickson was drawn to rural communities where he could play an integral role in the community. When he moved his family to Gleichen, no clinics existed in the area. Dr. Wickson not only established a clinic, but helped encourage other professionals to set up shop in town: a physiotherapist, eye doctor, and others to help treat the community. He even set up a lab, which was particularly important for his many patients from the nearby Siksika Nation, who didn’t always have the means to travel to a hospital for blood work.

After Dr. Wickson’s passing, his family established the Robert Wickson Memorial Award in his honour. The award helps lessen the financial burdens of students who, like him, are passionate about rural medicine.

“My dad would never have made it through med school if other people hadn’t created bursaries and scholarships,” Wickson says. “His family didn’t have money to send him. [Without financial support,] he wouldn’t have become a doctor.”

“He also loved to teach,” she adds, recalling his role as a professor of rural family medicine and pharmacology at the Cumming School of Medicine. “So this is our family’s way of helping students in some way because he can’t anymore.”

Jennifer recently had the opportunity to meet Charlotte Breakey, who received the Wickson Award in July 2016, shortly after starting her final year of medical school. At the time, Breakey was doing her clerkship in the Crowsnest Pass, a small community in Southern Alberta. Recently, she lined up a family medicine residency in Nanaimo, B.C., where she’ll train to be a rural general practitioner.

Like Dr. Wickson, Breakey is drawn to rural life, and in particular to the kind of medicine one can practice in such a setting.

“Rural doctors can get to know each patient and their family, and have a greater positive impact on their health,” says Breakey. ”It’s the best example of continuity of care you can get in medicine.”

Breakey says receiving the award was a huge honour, and the opportunity to hear Jennifer Wickson’s stories about her father’s life and practice only reinforced her desire to practice rural medicine and make a positive impact on communities in need.


Student scholarships, like the Robert Wickson Memorial Award and those that will be established through Giving Day, leave a lasting legacy — not only in the academic world, but also in our community, our city and our world.

Honouring a “once in a lifetime” researcher, husband, and friend

Brett Kilb

Honouring a “once in a lifetime” researcher, husband, and friend

“Once in a lifetime, you meet someone like Brett,” says Dr. Arun Anand, who met Brett Kilb on his first day at the Cumming School of Medicine in 2009 and instantly knew they’d be best friends for life.

“I’ve never met someone like that in my life. And I know I never will again.”

Brett’s family, friends and former colleagues all echo that sentiment. Brett was a hard-working, staggeringly bright student: a chancellor scholar at the University of Calgary, with degrees in medicine and kinesiology, plus a master’s degree in public health from Harvard. He was also a talented athlete and compassionate friend. Arun recalls being inspired to work harder in school, to push his limits alongside Brett.

“I couldn’t keep up with him,” he admits, “but he never made me feel badly about that.”

Despite Brett’s dedication to his work and the long hours he spent studying and researching, he always made time to talk to his family and counsel his friends. His wife, Jess Kilb, recalls how she and other family members would sometimes hesitate to bother him, but he always encouraged them to call.

“He always put family first,” says Jess, who met Brett while studying kinesiology at the University of Calgary.

Jess was with Brett when he died suddenly at the age of 28, while doing hip replacement research in Barcelona, Spain. His death rocked his family, friends and a medical community that had been watching his star rise. At the time, he was completing his fourth year as an orthopaedic resident at the University of British Columbia, with plans to become a spine surgeon with the Vancouver Spine Surgery Institute.

Jess recalls Brett’s resolve to pursue his research project, which he had conceived and developed himself. Brett aimed to determine whether there was a genetic explanation behind the development of “pseudotumours” following hip replacement surgery — an issue that many hip replacement surgeons deal with. His idea was rejected three times by surgeons and staff, but Brett refused to give up on it.

“Brett liked innovation,” says Jess. “He wanted to create something new, projects that had never been done before. If people weren’t pursuing it, he was going to pursue it.”

Arun, now a resident physician in anaesthesiology at the Ottawa Hospital agrees: “He always asked questions and was not afraid to go and find answers.”

Brett’s research eventually garnered interest from other researchers — so much that he was awarded, posthumously, with the prestigious Frank Stinchfield Award from the Hip Society for the best research received from a resident or a fellow in orthopaedic surgery in North America. Jess accepted it on his behalf in March 2017.

“Brett really, really loved research,” she says. “He inspired a lot of people. So we wanted to create something to carry on that memory, that legacy.”

The Kilb family established the Brett Kilb Memorial Fund, she explains, “to help future medical students achieve their research dreams and help them through their journey — especially those who have research projects they’re passionate about, which will impact other people’s lives.”

Hip replacement researchers will carry on Brett’s work, leading to safer and more effective surgeries. And his legacy will undoubtedly inspire young medical students to live as he did: with integrity, compassion and dedication to work that changes lives.


Student scholarships, like the Brett Kilb Memorial Fund and those that will be established through Giving Day, leave a lasting legacy — not only in the academic world, but also in our community, our city and our world.