The donors: Rob, Rhonda, Drew, Justine and Victoria Hamill

The gift: Raising $1-million and climbing

The cause: The Children’s Miracle Network

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The Hamill family had been raising money for years for the Children’s Miracle Network through their four Dairy Queen outlets in Red Deer, Alta., when they finally got a chance to see how the donated funds were being used.

The U.S.-based charity provides support to more than 100 children’s hospitals across North America, including a dozen in Canada. A few years ago, Drew and Justine Hamill, who help run the business with their parents, Rob and Rhonda Hamill, attended an event in Florida that celebrated the network and demonstrated how hospitals use the donations. “When the kids saw the good that was being done for the children, they really became aggressive in raising funds,” said Rob Hamill, who took over the franchise from his father, Gordon, in the 1980s and plans to pass it on to his children.

The younger Hamills stepped up the fundraising by challenging staff with incentives, matching donations, organizing bottle drives and selling trinkets, including balloons. Dairy Queen Canada has long been a major fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network and the Hamills go far beyond other franchise holders. They’ve raised $1-million in total in the past 16 years and they have no plans to slow down. Rob, 55, said he is backing off daily management and turning it over to Drew and Justine (another daughter, Victoria, is about to become a teacher). “They want to just continue to keep going,” he said.