Canadian boy’s podcast highlights children’s health with help from NHL, Hollywood stars

A 12-year-old boy is hoping to make a difference in the lives of other kids like him, all through podcasting.

Zander Zatylyn has just wrapped up a cross-country tour, his last stop in Vancouver, with the goal of raising awareness for children’s hospitals across Canada.

Zander knows first-hand the important care these health settings provide. He was born with a rare heart condition and has had to undergo three open heart surgeries in his lifetime.

“I can’t stop talking so I’m basically using this to get my voice out. And I love meeting new people, especially celebrities,” he told CityNews of the origins of his podcast.

Podcaster Zander Zatylny has undergone three surgeries for a heart condition
Zander Zatylny hopes his podcast will help raise awareness for children’s hospitals across Canada. He’s undergone three surgeries for a heart condition and knows first-hand how important access to care is. (Submitted)

His first guest was Canadian pro golfer Brooke Henderson, whom he says was amazing.

He’s also been able to chat with a number of NHL players, including Vancouver Canuck Brock Boeser.

“[It’s been] amazing. Absolutely amazing. All the NHLers, they’re all so down to earth, they’re so nice, so kind. And that’s what I really want people to know is NHLers can just be so great and they can do so much in the world other than just playing a game of hockey,” Zander said, noting many players give back to children’s hospitals, too.

“They’ve been great, the interviews have been great, it’s just been amazing.”

But the podcast itself wasn’t enough. He says he began selling merchandise to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and things just began to grow.

“I was like, ‘I really want to expand this.’ So I did a proposal to the NHL, they said ‘yes,’ and I’ve done each NHL city, each NHL Canadian city, and it’s been great,” he explained.

Zander tells CityNews he felt compelled to give back to the doctors and nurses at his local children’s hospital, who took such great care of him, as well as others across Canada.

In addition to Henderson and NHLers, Zander’s also been able to speak with some big Hollywood stars, including Jimmy Kimmel, John Stamos, and Matthew McConaughey.

Zander says he shares his story with potential guests when he extends invites, giving them a sense of what he’s trying to do.

“Jimmy Kimmel actually, he can really relate to me because his son, Billy, he has a heart condition,” the young podcaster said.

However, one guest in particular has stood out so far.

“Probably Matthew McConaughey because I could really relate to him as well. We just bonded right from the start and he was like my best friend,” Zander told CityNews. “We talked about him growing up, where he went to school, what he did in school, his book, Greenlights. And it was actually really cool because he’s inviting me out to Texas. It’s going to be crazy.”

Given his heart condition, Zander admits the podcasting and touring can be a lot. But he says he’s really “just a regular kid” and that his condition isn’t stopping him.

Even though his Canada tour is over, his podcasting continues. He already has some guests, including American actress Glenn Close, lined up.

While he doesn’t know exactly where his efforts will go next, he hopes whatever happens will help others and raise awareness for children’s health.

“It’s really, really important to raise awareness and donate to children’s health because me, personally, I know how important it is to donate, but my tour, my podcast — the main idea is to let other people know how important it is. They could do a lot of stuff, some people might not know that, but they could do a lot of good stuff.”

And he plans to take McConaughey up on his offer, if it still stands.

The post Canadian boy’s podcast highlights children’s health with help from NHL, Hollywood stars appeared first on CityNews Calgary.

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