Thank you London and Middlesex

London, ON – On March 20, 2017, United Way London & Middlesex invited hundreds of its donors and volunteers to join in the “Hoopla” and celebrate the impact that their generosity has in people’s lives in London and Middlesex County.

During halftime, Dr. Karima Velji, the 2016 Campaign Chair, Evelyn Daley, Vice Chair, and Kelly Ziegner, CEO, thanked the community on behalf of the 85,000 people who benefit from United Way funded programs each year. Joining them at court was Sara, a 12-year-old cancer survivor, and her tutor, Chi-Lan, from United Way-funded Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) of London Region.

To read the full media release click here.

School can be a challenge for any child on a given day, but for 12-year-old Sara, there was a time when class was so stressful she struggled to get her thoughts out. Feeling anxious and overwhelmed, her confidence dropped “big time.” Thankfully Sara says things are very different today – and it’s due in part to Chi-Lan, her mentor and tutor from the Learning Disabilities Association of London Region (LDA of London).

Sara survived brain cancer after being diagnosed when she was just a toddler. Because of the aggressive treatment needed to beat the illness, she’s faced side effects that have impacted her ability to process and analyze information. Sara’s mom, Gillian, explains that having these reduced cognitive skills once made school especially difficult for her daughter. “But teachers now say to me that Sara’s so comfortable, that she’s more relaxed and has a stronger sense of self. We attribute much of that to the incredible support we have around us at LDA of London.”

Five years ago, Sara started working with LDA of London when she was seven. Between their reading and math programs, day camps and one-on-one support from Chi-Lan, Sara now thrives in class and among her peers. Paul Cook, the executive director of the learning disabilities agency, has seen first-hand the changes in Sara. “It so special to see her excel … the wonderfulness of it inspires our team and volunteers,” he adds.

With Grade 6 wrapping up in a few short months, Sara will start at a new school this fall. She’s excited about the change and looks at it like an adventure, knowing the tools and tips she’s learned from Chi-Lan and LDA of London are essential to help her navigate whatever comes next.

“I feel like I can do anything and know I’ll succeed. For me, LDA of London has been a real lifesaver!”


The Learning Disabilities Association of London Region is one of the partner agencies funded by United Way London & Middelsex. Your generous donations to United Way help ensure:

  • Almost 10,000 children in London and Middlesex can attend United Way funded summer or after school programming that helps build self-esteem, gain friendships and enhance literacy.
  • Students who participate in one-to-one tutoring at LDA of London increase their literacy skills significantly.
  • Parents increase their understanding of services and supports available in the community to assist their child with a learning disability.

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