Gabby - Marcel - Jeans Day

Meet this year's Jeans Day Champion Child: 'I get to give back to the hospital that saved my life'

VANCOUVER, BC – Gabby Friedman wants to make a difference. For BC Children’s Hospital, its patients and families, and in her words, “the future generations of sick children” in this province.

Gabby, this year’s Jeans Day Champion Child, used to be one of those children.

The 15-year-old spent the first few years of her life in and out of the hospital, undergoing surgeries, suffering from seizures, and dealing with other complications as they arose. Eventually, it was determined that her major organs were starting to shut down and she was diagnosed with Portal Vein Thrombosis and Portal Hypertension, a rare condition caused by a clot in the portal vein that left her in constant danger of severe internal bleeding.

Thanks in large part to a new procedure performed in consultation with BC Children’s Hospital, Friedman was able to persevere through those challenges her life and now typically only visits the hospital for regular checkups to monitor her condition.

“Even though it was a horrible experience, I wouldn’t be the person I am without it,” Gabby said. “It taught me how to be tough and strong, and how to push through difficult things.”

And now, Gabby has an opportunity to give back, which is why she’s thrilled to be the face of this year’s Jeans Day campaign. Jeans Day is one of BC Children’s Hospital’s signature events, having raised more than $21 million for the hospital since the inaugural event in 1990.

“It means a lot,” Gabby said. “I get to give back to the hospital that saved my life. I was surprised a lot of people don’t know about Jeans Day. I want to create more awareness for it and get the message out there a bit more.”

Recently, Gabby spent a day with Whitecaps FC defender Marcel de Jong for a Jeans Day videoshoot – de Jong is one of this year’s Jeans Day ambassadors. And as an avid soccer fan and player herself, she said it was an “amazing” experience.

“It was so much fun I can barely explain it,” Gabby said. “I never had a day like that, spending the whole day with a Whitecaps player. Who else can say that? I got to film a promo video with the Whitecaps and kick the ball around BC Place. It was amazing.”

“Special moments like that make the really bad days that much better,” added Gabby’s mother, Stacey. “Marcel signed his shoes, gave them to her and they spent the day together, it was extremely touching and heartwarming. It gives these kids a chance to create an awesome memory and maybe replace a really bad one.”

On Friday night at BC Place, the ‘Caps are hoping to create another special memory for Gabby, when she is honoured prior to kickoff as part of the club’s Kid Captain of the Match program. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT at BC Place. Fans are encouraged to wear their denim and purchase a Jeans Day button or lapel pin at ‘Caps Kickoff or on the concourse.

All proceeds will be donated to BC Children’s Hospital.