By: Alyssa Leonard

The Windsor Regional Hospital Foundation’s 12th annual Hats on for Healthcare fundraising event is going online this year.

With many organizations, businesses and their staff working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, Hats on for Healthcare has found a creative way for everyone to still participate. Instead of the usual one-day event, the foundation has extended this year’s event to run from March 31 to April 28. This will allow businesses and organizations to raise funds for the hospital by holding a “hat day” that fits their schedule.

Every year, the Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) Foundation holds a fashion show, musical performances and a live radio broadcast from on campus. This year they held a virtual launch on YouTube where they incorporated as many of these elements as they could.

“This year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, we’re not able to host the event like we typically would,” says Cristina Naccarato, Manager of Philanthropy at the WRHFoundation. “So we decided to move it to an online platform to make it more accessible to everyone.”

Hats on for Healthcare is similar to a “dress down” day at work, but instead of wearing t-shirts and jeans on a Friday, participants can wear a hat of their choice. Hats worn over the years have ranged from a simple baseball cap to decked-out, custom-designed hats.

Individuals, businesses, organizations, retailers and schools are encouraged to share their favourite hats with the foundation through social media using #HatsOnForHealthcare.

They also provide pins and stickers to anyone who wishes to participate but cannot wear a hat.

“We’re hoping that organizations and participants will still take photos of themselves wearing their best hats and share them with us so that we can populate a gallery and continue to have that communal feeling this year,” says Naccarato.

Over the past 12 years, Hats on for Healthcare has raised over $400,000 for various programs and services at Windsor Regional Hospital. This year, the money raised will support the foundation’s COVID-19 Assistance Fund. According to Naccarato, the fund was created in March of 2020 to allow Windsor Regional Hospital to respond to the global pandemic quickly. It has helped provide equipment such as ventilators, patient monitors, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff as well as patients and visitors.

Naccarato says that Hats on for Healthcare is an easy way to participate in supporting healthcare in Windsor-Essex because you can be as creative and unique as you want to be. The WRH Foundation has suggestions on their website for how participants can encourage additional involvement, such as holding a 50/50 draw, social media contests, virtual fashion show, Zoom lunch, and more.

“It’s a great way to spread awareness of how the hospital has been helping the community during the pandemic and a great way to support the hospital’s efforts,” says Naccarato.

For more information on Hats on for Healthcare or to register for the event, visit www.wrh.on.ca/HatsonforHealthcare